A Growing Problem: A Look at Childhood Obesity

Obesity isn’t just a problem that affects adults; more and more children are experiencing trouble with their weight. In fact, the scope of this problem is surprisingly large.

Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly nearly one-fifth of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are considered obese. To put this perspective, this figure equates to over 14 million children and adolescents.

Even among the very young, obesity has become all too common. Between the ages of 2 and 5, over 13 percent of the American population is obese. The obesity rate is even higher for children between the ages of 6 and 11 (20.3%) and 12 to 19 (21.2%).

Obesity rates also vary based on socioeconomic factors. Childhood obesity rates are lowest among non-Hispanic Asian children (8.7%), followed by non-Hispanic White children (16.1%), non-Hispanic Black children (24.2%) and finally Hispanic children (25.6%).

Household Education and Obesity

Household education levels likewise appear to have significant influence on a person’s risk of obesity. From the years 2011 through 2014, the CDC found a correlation between lower educational levels and higher obesity rates. Conversely, highly educated households tended to be in better physical shape.

Risk Factors

While there is no one cause of childhood obesity, a number of common factors are usually responsible for this condition.

Diet: Obese children frequently consume fast foods, baked goods, vending machine snacks and other items that are high in calories. Other calorie-rich products include candy, sugary drinks and desserts. While they might not seem especially unhealthy, Fruit juices and sports drinks are also frequently loaded with calories.

A Sedentary Lifestyle: It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that obese children often fail to get sufficient physical activity. Instead, these children spend hour after hour playing video games, watching TV or browsing their smartphones.

Running in the Family: Obesity isn’t typically thought of as a hereditary condition, but children with obese parents and relatives are significantly more likely to be obese themselves.

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