The Rise in Childhood Obesity Rates
Among preschool children ages 2 to 5, the rate of obesity increased from 5 percent to 10.4 percent between 1976–1980 and 2007–2008. Obesity rates also increased dramatically among 6- to 11-year-olds (from 4.2% to 19.6% between 1963–1965 and 2007–2008) and among 12- to 19-year-olds (from 4.6% to 18.1% between 1966–1970 and 2007–2008).
Significant Racial Disparities
In 2007–2008, non-Hispanic Black adolescent girls (29.2%) were significantly more likely to be obese compared with their non-Hispanic White counterparts (14.5%). The prevalence of obesity also was significantly higher among Mexican-American adolescent boys (26.8%) than among non-Hispanic White adolescent boys (16.7%).
Reduced Life Expectancies
Unless the childhood obesity epidemic is reversed, experts warn that excess weight could reduce average life expectancy by five years or more over the next several decades.
More Cases of Diabetes
Researchers estimate that one out of every three boys and two out of every five girls born in the United States in the year 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes.
Obese and overweight youths are more likely to have key risk factors for cardiovascular disease than their peers. A national study of 12- to 17-year-olds found that 42.9 percent of obese youths and 22.3 percent of overweight youths had unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels, compared with only 14.2 percent of their normal-weight peers.
Obesity's Link to Asthma
Overweight and obesity are associated with a 52 percent increased risk of a new diagnosis of asthma among children and adolescents.
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Adolescent Pathway to Adult Obesity
Obese adolescents are more likely to become obese adults. Among 16- and 17-year-olds, 80 percent of obese boys and 92 percent of obese girls will become obese adults, while only 21 percent of peers who are neither obese nor overweight will become obese adults.
Source: Journal of Adolescent Health
Cost of Adult Obesity
The medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is difficult to calculate, but estimates range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.