We know childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels—it's a topic that is constantly in the news. But despite all the attention around the issue, and the many efforts of the government and food manufacturers, there has been no decline in the number of kids who are overweight in the U.S. over the past three decades.
In the journal Obesity, researchers report that in 2013-2014, more than 33 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 19 were overweight, while 17 percent were obese. And that number reflects absolutely no decline from past years.
The even worse news is that the number of severly obese kids (those with a BMI of 35 or greater) actually rose since 2011-2012. Researchers, who looked at data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, note severe obesity remains especially problematic among teenagers.
All in all, as many as 4.5 million American kids and teens are still obese, and they will need dramatic interventions to correct their unhealthy habits, according to lead researcher Asheley Skinner, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health. If these children don't lose weight, they are more likely to be obese as adults, and more likely to develop a host of health problems, from diabetes to cancer, leading to a shorter life expectancy.
It's so urgent that we figure out a way to address this problem. Whatever we are currently doing clearly isn't enough. Here's hoping the next time this data is analyzed, we can see some more positive results.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.