Childhood Obesity Facts

Obesity in America is a growing problem, and not just in adults. Today, about one in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese; nearly triple the rate in 1963. Child obesity has quickly become one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century.

More often than not, obesity is the result of a flawed lifestyle. Although genetics can be a factor, it is more common now for children to be obese or overweight because of environmental and behavioral factors. These 10 frightening facts display how dangerous and costly childhood obesity is in society. 

1. Only 2 Percent of Kids in the U.S. Eat Healthy

Based on diet recommendations established by the United States Department of Agriculture, only 2 percent of children have a healthy diet. In fact, in a survey of high school seniors, only three out of every 10 report eating vegetables “nearly” every day. Of the vegetables consumed, one-fourth is in the form of french fries or potato chips.

2. Childhood Obesity Results in Reduced Life Expectancies

Unless a significant change occurs, experts warn that the effects of childhood obesity could reduce average life expectancy by five years or more over the next several decades.

3. Obesity Among Children is Mainly Caused by a Lack of Exercise

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and teens exercise at least at the intensity of a fast walk for 60 minutes every day. But did you know one in every four children does not participate in any free-time physical activity? Unfortunately, more and more children are spending their time doing stationary activities.

4. Television’s Correlation with Childhood Obesity

A typical child spends approximately 4 to 5 hours a day watching TV, using the computer or playing video games. Studies have found that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to gain excess weight. There’s also evidence that early TV habits may have long-lasting effects. Two studies that followed children from birth found that TV viewing in childhood predicts obesity risk well into adulthood and even into their mid-life.

5. Unnecessary Snacking Leads to Weight Gain

Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending toward three snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day. Children and teens in states with strong laws that restrict the sale of unhealthy snack foods and beverages in school gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such policies.

6. Overweight and Obese Children May Miss More School

Many know that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. But did you know that overweight children miss four times more school than a child at a normal weight? A number of factors could be to blame including, a fear of being bullied or teased, or being embarrassed about participating in physical activities.

7. The Risk for Heart Disease Jumps for Children with Obesity

70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Researchers predict that, if current adolescent obesity rates continue, there will be more than 100,000 additional cases of coronary heart disease attributable to obesity by the year 2035.

8. Childhood Obesity and the Link to Asthma

Overweight and obesity are associated with a 52 percent increased risk of a new diagnosis of asthma among children and adolescents.

9. Health Care Costs Skyrocket

Did you know health care expenses directly related to childhood obesity are $14 billion every year? If obesity rates continue on their current pace, by 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States.

10. The Relationship Between Childhood Obesity and Diabetes

45 percent of children diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes due to being obese or overweight.

Childhood Obesity Prevention Education at Blank Children’s Hospital

At Blank Children’s Hospital, we’re committed to preventing childhood obesity by helping children and teens develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Our adolescent team at Blank Children's Hospital works with teens and young adults to help them begin to take responsibility for their own health by providing guidance on risk-taking behaviors.

In addition to our Adolescent Clinic, Blank Children's Hospital and Kohl's Cares have partnered to provide obesity prevention education to kids in the Iowa community. Kohl's All Kids Healthy works to assess children's health risks and provide education to preschools and after-school programs in central Iowa. Program components include educational presentations and CATCH curriculum. Contact us to learn more about our commitment to our community through the Kohl’s Care program today!