Childhood Obesity Statistics
Childhood obesity statistics are an alarming wake-up call to parents concerned about their children's health. Childhood obesity is becoming more prevalent by the year and it increases the risk for a variety of illnesses, medical experts say.
Childhood obesity statistics compiled by medical experts with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and in studies performed by other medical researchers indicate that:
- One in five children and adolescents is obese.
- Childhood obesity is the No. 1 health problem for children and adolescents in the United States today.
- Over the past 30 years, the prevalence for obesity has increased:
- From 5% to 12.4% in children ages 2 to 5
- From 6.5% to 17% in children ages 6 to 11
- From 5% to 17.6% in children ages 12 to 19
- 80% of children who are considered overweight or obese at ages 10 to 15 are obese at age 25
- Obese children are at greater risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers by age 20. These are conditions that typically do not affect people until they are 40 to 60 years old.
- Children and adolescents spend an average of 4.5 hours per day in front of a TV, computer, or video game screen. Sedentary lifestyle is considered a major contributor to childhood obesity.
Obesity in children and adolescents is defined as having a Body Mass Index, or BMI, in the 95th percentile or greater for all children of the same gender and age, according to national measuring guidelines. Overweight children and adolescents are defined as having a BMI in the 85th percentile or greater for the same gender and age.
So, what should parents and others do about these startling childhood obesity statistics? The U. S. Surgeon General's Vision for a Health and Fit Nation plan recommends:
- Focusing on good nutrition and feeding children a low-fat diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins (such as fish and low-fat meat)
- Limiting or eliminating consumption of sugary soft drinks and juices high in sugar
- Consuming more water, up to 8 glasses per day
- Limiting TV, computer, and video game time to no more than 2 hours per day
- Requiring 150 minutes per week of physical education in elementary schools and 225 minutes of physical education in secondary schools
- Engaging in physical activities as a family, including biking, hiking, walking, jogging, swimming, and other outdoor activities
- Encouraging children to walk or bike to school whenever and wherever it is safe
- Encouraging children to engage in imaginative outdoor free play whenever possible
If you are concerned about your child's weight and fear they may be at risk of become obese contact your heath care provider or your pediatritian. Her or she will be able to help you create nutrition and exercice guidelines that will help keep your child happy and healthy.