Childhood Obesity: A Growing Problem

It’s safe to say that obesity is a huge issue in the United States, affecting nearly 40 percent of American adults. Unfortunately, obesity is also a major problem among children as well, one that continues to get worse.

A Worrying Trend

A 2018 study, published in the journal Pediatrics, determined that obesity in young children is rising at an alarming rate. Perhaps most alarmingly, the authors reported that the greatest increase was observed in children between the ages of two and five. Asheley Skinner, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at Duke University, was especially blunt in her assessment of the study’s findings. “The main take-home message for me is that, clearly, obesity remains a problem. It’s not improving.”

For their study, the authors reviewed data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This allowed the study authors to analyze the health of over 3,000 children between the ages of two and nineteen. In 1999, the study found that 14 percent of children in this group were obese; by 2015/2016, this figure had increased to 18.5 percent. During this same time period, the obesity rate grew at an even faster clip for children aged two to five, climbing from 9 to 14 percent.

Long-term Problems?

When discussing the study with National Public Radio, Skinner noted that children who develop obesity when they’re young often suffer from weight problems for years on end. “Obesity in the youngest group is a concern because when obesity starts younger, most of these children continue to have obesity throughout childhood and into adulthood,” stated Skinner. “The earlier you start seeing this, the harder it is to address it for these kids. […] Investing in the health of children now is not only the right thing to do, it will save us money down the road.”

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