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Home > Blog > Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

By Jodie Parus, RD, LDChildhood Obesity

The number of overweight and obese children has been steadily increasing over the last several decades. The numbers are startling and the lack of conversation around the topic is of great concern. 

In the United States:

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years
  • In 2012, more than 1/3 of children and adolescents were overweight or obese
  • Approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese


  • 1 in 10 children are obese
  • In 2010, the number of overweight children under the age of five was estimated to be over 42 million
  • By 2020, if the current epidemic continues unabated, 9 percent of all preschoolers will be overweight or obese, nearly 60 million children

The Conversation:

  • In one month in 2012 there were only 15,189 online conversations worldwide around childhood obesity. That's 1 per 23,440 obese children.
  • In comparison to Alzheimer's: 142 times more conversations, Diabetes: 384 times more conversations and Leukemia: 7813 times more conversations¬†

Immediately, obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, bone and joints problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems. In the long-term, children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore are at greater risk for an array of diseases and conditions. Ultimately, they are at a much greater risk for pre-mature death, as obesity is one of the top annual causes of death in the United States, with over 2.4 million.

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and the prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. The number of conversations around the topic must increase and the timing is right with efforts such as the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and the Surgeon General's emphasis on changing the national conversation "from a negative one about obesity and illness" to a positive one about health and fitness.

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