MONDAY, July 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For the first time ever, more than one in five American children are obese.
From 2011 to 2012 and then from 2017 to 2020, obesity rates increased among children 2 to 5 years old as well as among 12 to 19 year olds, according to a new analysis of data from a national health survey. And the rise was true for American children of all races and ethnicities, according to study leader Amanda Staiano.
“The proportion of obese children increased from 18% in the 2011 cycle to 22% in the 2020 cycle,” said Staiano, director of the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behaviors Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
“What is even more alarming is that this data was all collected before COVID-19 pandemicand other recently released data show that children earn even more ballast due to restrictions on their diet and activities during the pandemic,” she said.
Staiano fears the numbers could be even worse in the next National Health and Nutrition Survey.
“Children bear the cost of this disease, and adults pay the additional health care costs of children growing up with diseases and needing treatment,” Staiano said. “Children who don’t eat a nutritious diet tend to perform worse in school, so obesity affects all areas of a child’s life.”
For the study, she and her Pennington Center colleague, Kathy Hu, analyzed data from nearly 15,000 American children and adolescents who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Survey in 2011-2012, 2013- 2014, 2015-2016 and 2017-2020.
Among 2 to 19 year olds, obesity rose from 17.7% between 2011 and 2012 to 21.5% in the 2017-2020 survey.
Over the decade, obesity rates for boys rose from 18% to 21.4% and for girls, from 17% to 21.6%.
While obesity rates increased significantly among preschoolers and teens, they did not increase among 6- to 11-year-olds.