10 Staggering Facts About Childhood Obesity

By Mike Howard


In a recent poll, almost 40% of adults rated childhood obesity as the number 1 health concern amongst youth.

If we haven’t hit the panic button yet, it’s time to do so.

Here are some sobering statistics about childhood obesity that really underscore the need to act.

  1. Obesity rates: Obesity rates among children over the past 30 years more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5, quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11, and more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19.
  2. Costs: It costs an estimated $549,907.3 in health treatments for an obese 18-year-old to remain obese throughout adulthood. That’s a nice house (apartment where I live), or a REALLY freaking nice car.
  3. Fast foods and pop: It’s no coincidence that the burgeoning of children’s waistlines has gone up with fast food and soda consumption – increasing by nearly 300 percent between 1977 and 1996.
  4. TV watching: One quarter of all US children watch 4 or more hours of television each day, as do 43 percent of non-Hispanic blacks. TV watching is strongly correlated to weight.
  5. Fresh produce: A mere 21 % of young people eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Consider that nearly half of children’s vegetable consumption comes in the form of fried potatoes!
  6. Type 2 diabetes: Whereas in 1990 only 4% of newly diagnosed childhood diabetes was type 2, by 2001 the proportion was 45% in adolescents in areas with a large population of African-American, Mexican-American, or Native-American children. Also noteworthy, type 2 diabetes in youth is more common in girls than in boys, with one study showing that up to 80 percent of children who develop type 2 diabetes are female.
  7. Sleep problems: The incidence of snoring among obese children was 12.5%, more than two times higher than that of overweight children (5.8 percent), and three times higher than that of normal weight children (4.6 percent). Sleep issues can impact learning.
  8. Cardiovascular disease: In a population-based sample of 5 to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  9. Menstrual problems: A recent study showed that girls as young as 7 were hitting puberty. Obesity may also contribute to the development of uterine fibroids, or other menstrual irregularities later in life.
  10. Premature death: Obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from these diseases in this study.

What do you think about these statistics? Surprising, or not surprising? What alarms you the most about the prevalence of childhood obesity?

Image credit: anjsand


  1. Rik

    I really don’t want to be crass but you and ostriches have a lot in common. Bury your head in the sand and you won’t have to see the problem or results. Last month I went to the funeral of an 11 year old who died of complications of obesity and diabetes and I work with children all across this nation everyday who suffer from the consequences of
    BMI’s off the charts (By the way BMI is “Body Mass Index which is “Height to Weight Ratio”, and Hip to Waist Ratios that would definitely make you look twice. I work with Pediatricians who have dedicated their adult lives to helping children but can only make suggestions or hand our kids some kind of drug to help. That and spend less than 10 minutes with each child and parent and feel totally helpless.
    I can see you don’t trust or respect any division of the government but the next time you go to the mall, if you ever go since you sound a little unsociable, take a look at the kids walking around with the 44 oz. “Big Gulp” in one hand and burger and fries in the other and then tell me we aren’t in trouble.
    The group I work with is dedicated to stopping this problem as we screen kids all across the country then we work with them for eight straight weeks on their nutrition, exercise and habits that have amazing results.
    I’ve been working with the medical industry since 1974 so I am also a member of the AARP group but on my 62nd birthday I made a decision to try and make a difference in our nation’s youth and I can’t tell you how it has affected my outlook on life. You might do a little reflection in your own life and think of how you will be remembered when your 6 feet under. Blob the skeptic or Blob the guy, I assume your a guy because most women are more nurturing, that used the rest of his life trying to make a difference.

  2. :):):)


  3. Lydia Washington

    Does ANYONE care for anorexics in this website? I mean, we all talk about how our children should be like Greek statues: flawless. But nobody seems to comprehend that you are just making your children afraid about eating. Blob, I hope you don’t have any children.

    • matt

      how R greek statues flawless