Extreme Childhood Obesity on the Rise

Published Online: Monday, August 4, 2014
Although overall rates of childhood obesity in the United States appear to be stabilizing, the prevalence of more severe forms of obesity is increasing, the results of a recent study suggest.

The study, published online on April 7, 2014, in JAMA Pediatrics, analyzed the overall prevalence of childhood obesity and the prevalence of severe obesity over 14 years, looking for trends by age, race and ethnicity, and sex. Researchers of the study examined data from a nationally representative sample of children aged 2 to 19 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2012.

From 2011 to 2012, 17.3% of children and teens were obese. In addition, the prevalence of class- 2 obesity increased from 3.8% to 5.9% and the prevalence of class-3 obesity increased from 0.9% to 2.1% throughout the study period. Although these rates were not statistically different from the previous year, all classes of obesity significantly increased over the 14-year period.

“Continuing research is needed to determine which, if any, public health interventions can be credited with this stability,” wrote the study authors. “Unfortunately, there is an upward trend of more severe forms of obesity, and further investigations into the causes of and solutions to this problem are needed.”

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