Healthy living: Children and obesity (Week 2)

July 10, 2015


Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Despite recent declines in the prevalence among preschool-aged children, obesity among children is still too high. For children and adolescents aged 2-19 years, the prevalence of obesity has remained fairly stable at about 18 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents for the past decade. Here are the facts:

• The prevalence of obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years decreased significantly from 13.9 percent in 2003-2004 to 8.4 percent in 2011-2012.

• The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period.

• Obesity prevalence differs among racial/ethnic groups and also varies by age, sex, and adult head of household and education level.

• Overall, obesity prevalence among children whose adult head of household completed college was approximately half that of those whose adult head of household did not complete high school (9 percent versus 19 percent among girls; 11 percent versus 21 percent among boys) in 1999–2010.

• Among non-Hispanic white children, the lowest prevalence of obesity was observed among those whose adult head of household completed college; however, this was not the case for non-Hispanic black children.

• Over time, the prevalence of obesity among girls whose adult head of household had not finished high school increased from 17 percent (1999–2002) to 23 percent (2007–2010), but decreased for girls whose adult head of household completed college from 11 percent (1999–2002) to 7 percent (2007–2010). There was not a similar finding among boys.*

Parents and adults must promote healthy eating and physical activity among young children, adolescents and teens encouraging them to eat healthy and exercise regularly to prevent overweight and obesity in children.

According to the American Obesity Treatment Association** obesity in children can result in many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. Implementing prevention/ educational programs and getting a better understanding of treatment for youngsters is important to controlling the obesity epidemic.

Sources: *Read the Report: Obesity– United States 1999–2010, in MMWR **American Obesity Treatment Association at obesity

Next Week: Children and Obesity (Continuation)

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.