Obesity and Overweight Children: The Hidden Epidemic

Overweight and obesity has become the fastest growing epidemics affecting Americans today. According to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), obesity increased dramatically during the late 1990s. More alarming results of the study reveal that 9 million children between the ages of 6 and 19 are labeled overweight. Children who are defined as overweight are at or above the 95th percentile of Body-Mass-Index (BMI) for their age and gender. These numbers have doubled for children and adolescents in the last 20 years.

The principal reason that overweight is on the rise among children is their lack of activity and poor eating habits. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of young people between the ages of 12 and 21 do not participate in any vigorous physical activity. From a public health perspective, immediate intervention is critical as studies show that most children who are overweight grow up to be overweight or obese adults, putting them at greater risk for health problems associated with obesity. Childhood overweight is the biggest problem facing children today.

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Obesity websites produced with APHA State Affiliates and Pfizer Public Health Group