Childhood obesity statistics do not look good. In fact, they are alarming and a cause for great concern. This is because its health risks are very high and the serious complications of childhood obesity can be immediate as well as long-term. Childhood obesity, if unchecked, can be a cause of premature death in early adulthood.  

The figures have risen so high that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified it as a non-contagious epidemic.

You, as a parent, should, therefore, keep a tab on your child’s weight. Is your child obese? Do read BMI for children to find that out. You could also use the CDC’s BMI calculator for children and teens.

There are various reasons that can make a child overweight or obese. The main cause is wrong eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Correcting the child’s lifestyle will go a long way in avoiding health conditions that can even lead to premature death.

If your child is overweight or obese, you must take the necessary steps to bring him to a healthy weight.

And if you find that he is maintaining a proper weight, help him to stay at that healthy weight.

Child obesity figures worldwide

  • The prevalence of overweight and obese children has risen considerably worldwide in less than one generation.
  • Ten percent of school-going children, worldwide, carry excess body fat with 25% of them being obese. They are at an increased risk of developing comorbidities associated with obesity either during the childhood years or as a young adult or in later years.
  • Obesity rates for children between the age of 2 to 5 years and adolescents between 12 to 19 years have doubled in the last three decades. In primary schools and secondary schools, you do see twice the number of “fuller” children than what you saw 30 years ago.
  • In children between the age of 6 years to 11 years, childhood obesity prevalence has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to about 20% in 2008. That is an increase of about 300% in those three decades.
  • According to one study, 80% of the children who were overweight at the age of 10 to 15 years had turned obese by the age of 25 years.
  • Another study concluded that 25% of the adults who were obese were overweight as children.
  • According to a study of 1999 – 2002 conducted by NHANES, 16% of children between the age of 6 to 19 years were overweight. Besides the increase in childhood obesity rates, there was a marked increase in weight also. In other words, the children also weighed more.
  • According to WHO, more than 20 million children were overweight globally in 2005.
  • A survey on childhood obesity in 1982 showed a 4% obesity rate among children, which increased to 16% in 1994.
  • Although the prevalence of overweight children is dramatically rising worldwide, it is significantly higher in economically developed countries.

Childhood obesity statistics in America

  • In the United States, the weight of a child has risen, on average, by more than 5 kg leading to one-third of American children being overweight or obese.
  • In a survey of 2008, only one state, Colorado, had an obesity rate of 20%. Twenty-six states had an obesity prevalence of 25% or more.
  • Six states had a prevalence of 30% or more. These states were Alabama, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
  • 2001 showed 25% of all white children and 33% of all black and Hispanic children to be overweight.
  • Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2008, obesity rates in American boys increased as follows:
  1. From 11.6% to 16.7% in non-Hispanic white boys
  2. From 10.7% to 19.8% in non-Hispanic black boys
  3. From 14.1% to 26.8% in Mexican-American boys

For the same period, the obesity rates for American girls were as follows:

  1. From 8.9% to 14.5% in non-Hispanic white girls
  2. From 16.3% to 29.2% in non-Hispanic black girls
  3. From 13.4% to 17.4% in Mexican-American girls

Childhood obesity statistics worldwide have to improve if the general population wants to lead a full life free of comorbidities. 

Which countries have the highest rate of childhood obesity?

According to the latest data of 2015-2017 from WHO, the southern European countries namely Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, San Marino, and Spain have the highest prevalence of obese children. About one in five boys (about 20%) is obese.

Which countries show serious efforts in controlling childhood obesity?

Although Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Greece presently have high rates of childhood obesity, there has been a significant decrease in the numbers in recent years indicating a sustained effort, their authorities have made in curtailing and preventing childhood obesity.

Which countries have the lowest rates of childhood obesity?

Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, and Norway have the lowest rates between 5% to 9% for both sexes.