/publications/issue/2005/2005-07/2005-07-9676

Obesity Not Just an American Epidemic

Author: Susan Farley

A recent British study revealed that childhood obesity in England increased by more than 50% from 1995 to 2002. Researchers attribute the jump to junk food, lack of exercise, and the popularity of computer games and television.

The British Department of Health noted that 15.5% of 2-to 11-year-olds in the country were considered obese, according to body mass index measures; in 1995 that rate was 9.9%. In the United States, childhood obesity rates in 2003 were 17%.

An alarming trend found was that, if the parents were obese or overweight, then almost 20% of the children also were obese, compared with 7% among children whose parents were not obese. Health officials have noted that these rates are a serious public health concern, noting, "Obesity levels in England are moving toward those of the United States and Europe."

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.