Childhood Obesity Statistics
This page is about childhood obesity statistics. Understanding what is causing the rise in obesity is much more urgent than it used to be. Here we look at causes and statistics.
Obesity in children (and adults) has become an epidemic! According to the World Health Organization, obesity around the world has doubled just since 1980.
It is even worse for children. In children ages 6 to 11 the obesity rate was 6.5% in 1980 and it tripled to 19.6% in 2008! Many children (over 12%) under 5 years old are already obese!
Children who are overweight or obese are much more likely than children who have a healthy weight to become overweight or obese adults.
The obesity epidemic shocker
Obese children miss 4 times more school than healthy children. This diminishes their chances of success in school, and that diminishes their chances of financial success later in life.
Understanding what is causing the rise in childhood obesity statistics starts with understanding energy imbalance. A calorie is a measure of heat or energy. Any animal that consumes more calories than it uses will tend to get fat.
By themselves, however, such general explanations don’t explain the dramatic recent increase in childhood obesity.
What has happened recently to cause the alarming rise in childhood obesity statistics?
Two most important 20th century trends have accelerated that have taken us farther away from physical well-being.
First, there has been a shift in fueling our bodies away from natural fats to fueling them with human-made foods, particularly refined processed carbohydrates.
Like heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance, obesity is one of the diseases of civilization chiefly caused by our consuming increasingly more refined processed carbohydrates.
If you are unsure what refined processed carbohydrates are, you will find a list on the Refined Processed Carbohydrates page of our website. You will find the link to that page listed on the site map/index.
Know the causes of obesity and know the cures
Refined processed carbohydrates are unnatural foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not evolve eating.
Consequently, our bodies are not designed to deal with these foods.
For example, until the Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago our ancestors did not eat grains (such as rice, corn, and wheat) or potatoes.
From a genetic viewpoint, our bodies are 99.99% the same as those of our Stone Age ancestors. Less than 1/10th of 1% of our genes have changed in the last 10,000 years. In terms of evolution, it is not that long ago.
The most important sources of human calories in the world today come from grains (and products made from grains) and potatoes. Obesity is a natural outcome of feeding our bodies foods like those that evolution did not equip us to utilize well.
According to Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, about 90% of the dollars spent by Americans on food is spent on processed foods, which are foods that have been, for example, canned, frozen, or dehydrated.
Our ancestors never ate such foods.
That has to be at the top of the list when it comes to what's causing the rise in childhood obesity statistics. It’s no accident that that trend has accelerated in the last few decades. For example, in the 1940’s, there were no fast food restaurants. By the 1970’s they had become big business. Their food is convenient, tasty, inexpensive, and unnatural.
Just a century ago in North America, heart attacks were virtually unknown. Now they are commonplace. Why? It’s chiefly due to the dietary shift in the last century away from burning natural fats as fuel to burning refined processed carbohydrates.
Know another cause of obesity and another cure
Second, our children, and we, have continued to become more inactive.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did a lot of walking, sprinting, and lifting. They were always on the move. As soon as they could, their children emulated them.
When was the last time you did any sprinting towards a game animal or away from a dangerous animal? When was the last time you set up or took down camp? When was the last time you walked a few miles carrying water?
Our children do what we do. A child with one obese parent has a 50% chance of being obese. A child with two obese parents has an 80% chance of being obese.
Please don’t blame genetics as one of the major childhood obesity causes. It’s not. Less than 1% of obesity is caused by genetic anomalies.
Therefore, 99% of obesity is preventable with lifestyle changes. Similarly, much obesity is reversible with lifestyle changes.
Even if you yourself are not a parent, why not set a good example for the children of others by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight?
We provide all the information necessary to help you.
Two major lessons to be learned
Here are the two major takeaway lessons.
First, in terms of food, please switch back from fueling your body with refined processed carbohydrates to fueling it with fats (and proteins) from natural sources.
Second, in terms of moving, please get some regular exercise. If it is sufficiently intense, it cannot take much time – and the physical benefits are enormous.
If all of us adults did that, we would soon reverse the major causes of the recent rapid rise in childhood obesity statistics and that would benefit all of us.
Related web pages to help you further
Now that you have the childhood obesity statistics, choose from the main menu or see the following pages of our website to help you further:
Our recommended books in relation to this topic
If you gained useful information from this page and wish to improve your child's weight loss and eating habits further, the following books are highly recommended.
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Childhood obesity statistics video