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Childhood obesity is also referred to as pediatric obesity. In the United States there are approximately 3 million cases per year.  It is a condition that needs to be corrected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides some current startling facts.

Obesity Facts

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years
  • Adolescent obesity has quadrupled in the past 30 years
  • In 1980, approximately 7% of children in the United States were obese, but in 2012 obesity in children increased to nearly 18%
  • Adolescents (ages 12-19) who were obese in 1980 made up 5% of the population, but in 2012 obesity in adolescents increased to 21%
  • More than one third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese

Defining Obese and Overweight

  • Overweight: Based on a particular height, you are considered overweight if you have excess body weight from fat, muscle, bone water or a combination of these factors.
  • Obese: Having excess body fat

Both of these conditions are a result of an imbalance in calories. It happens when you burn less calories than you should be burning compared to the amount of calories you are taking in. Both of these conditions are also affected by environmental, genetic and behavioral factors.

Obesity in High Schools

In a 2013 study the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that high schools in some states had more obese children than others. The following information shows the percentage of obese high school children per state.

15% to 19% Obesity

Alabama, 17%
Arkansas, 18%
Kentucky, 18%
Mississippi, 15%
Missouri, 15%
Tennessee, 17%
Texas, 16%
West Virginia, 16%

10% to 14% Obesity

Alaska, 12%
Arizona, 11%
Connecticut, 12%
Delaware, 14%
Florida, 12%
Georgia, 13%
Hawaii, 13%
Idaho, 10%
Illinois, 12%
Kansas, 13%
Louisiana, 14%
Maine, 12%
Maryland, 11%

Massachusetts, 10%
Michigan, 13%
Nebraska, 13%
Nevada, 11%
New Mexico, 13%
New York, 11%
North Carolina, 12%
North Dakota, 14%
Ohio, 13%
New Hampshire, 11%
Oklahoma, 12%
Rhode Island, 11%
South Carolina, 14%
South Dakota, 12%
Vermont, 13%
Virginia, 12%
Wisconsin, 12%
Wyoming, 11%

0% to 9% Obesity

Utah, 6%
Montana, 9%
New Jersey, 9%


*Note: Information on the following states was not available: California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington

Complications and Risks of Childhood Obesity

There are effects as a result of childhood obesity that can be either immediate or long term. These effects may have direct impact on overall health and quality of life.

Immediate health effects of childhood obesity

  • Higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. 70% of obese 5 to 17 year old children examined in a study had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Obese children are more likely to develop prediabetes which carries a higher risk for development of diabetes type 2.
  • Greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem


Long-term health effects of childhood obesity

  • Obesity during childhood increases the chance of obesity as adults, which also increases the chance of riskier health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancers including breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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