Childhood Obesity Statistics

The most common method used to gather data on childhood obesity statistics is called the body mass index formula. This is an equation derived from a persons body weight adjusted for height. The net result is an estimation of body fat percentage. The collected data is then categorized into percentiles. In other words, it's the relative position of the body mass index among others in the same sex and age group. Underweight is less than 5th percentile, normal weight is 5th-85th percentile, at risk of overweight is 85th-95th percentile, and overweight is 95th percentile and above. The actual body mass index is a numerical figure:

BMI category
below 18.5 underweight
18.5-24.9 normal weight
25.0-29.9 overweight
30.0 and above obese

The Obesity Statistics

The following childhood obesity statistics are based on a body mass index of over the 95th percentile. This data is from a 2003-2004 United States NHANES survey.

Overweight Children and Adolescents

ages overweight
2 through 5 13.9 %
6 through 11 18.8 %
12 through 19 17.4 %


Adolescent Boys by Race/Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity overweight
Non-Hispanic White 19.1 %
Non-Hispanic Black 18.5 %
Mexican American 18.3 %


Adolescent Girls by Race/Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity overweight
Non-Hispanic White 15.4 %
Non-Hispanic Black 25.4 %
Mexican American 14.1 %


Childhood Obesity Trends

The statistics above suggest that our children are eating too much and not getting enough exercise. There is a fine line between eating and physical activity - over time it will lead to weight gain. We need to get our children more active, get their metabolism moving, and make adjustments in their eating habits.

Proper nutrition and exercise will do wonders for their overall health. It requires making changes in lifestyles on all fronts starting with the parents. We are the role models and need to set a good example. One family at a time we can change the trend in the childhood obesity statistics and give our kids a new lease on life.

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