Childhood Obesity Still on the Rise

The number of children who are obese in the U.S. has been on the rise for more than a decade. (Photo: Sharomka/Shutterstock)

In case you haven't noticed, I write a lot about childhood obesity. It really worries me, especially the insistence by so many parents that it is something that is affecting "other people's kids" and not their own.

But that's just not the case.

According to research published in Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the percentage of U.S. children who are obese rose more than four percent from 14 percent in 1999 to 18.5 percent in 2015 to 2016. The highest increase was among children ages 2 to 5 with 14 percent being classified as obese compared to nine percent in 1999.

"Obesity in the youngest group is a concern," Duke University Associate Professor Asheley Skinner told NPR, "because when obesity starts younger, most of these children continue to have obesity throughout childhood and into adulthood. "The earlier you start seeing this, the harder it is to address it for these kids."

The study also showed that African-American and Hispanic children had higher rates of obesity compared to white and Asian-American children.

In 2010, research showed nearly one-third of children age 10 to 17 in the United States were overweight as of 2007, and roughly half those kids qualified as obese. That means one out of every three children was overweight or potentially obese.

These are not "other people's kids." These are our kids.

According to data published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine in 2010, obesity rates rose in 36 states since the last sampling in 2003. Mississippi had the highest obesity rate in this age group at nearly 22 percent in 2007; Oregon had the lowest at 9.6 percent. Two states that had ranked on the skinny side in 2003, Nevada and Colorado, had sharp increases in their percentages of obese and overweight kids in the 2007 survey. Surprisingly, South Carolina saw its childhood obesity rate drop from 19 percent to 15 percent.

So even though we are identifying the problem, we have yet to break the trend. And that's what really worries me.