Heart Health Month: Part One: Obesity in Children and Adolescents – By the Numbers


Chelsea Wicks, MD, discusses keeping your kids healthy.

All parents want what is best for their children. Keeping our kids healthy is a top priority and childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. 

Nearly 1 in 3 kids or teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese; nearly three times the number in 1963.

According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report in 2011-2102, 17% of children and adolescents age two-to-19 years old were considered obese. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) >95 percentile. That is almost 20 out of every 100 children!

As of 2010, almost 25% of children under the age of 18 in the state of Nevada were overweight (BMI > 85 percentile). These are startling numbers!  The 2010 survey also found during the survey period:

  • Nearly three-quarters of adolescents ate less than two servings of fruits every day.
  • 90% ate less than three servings of vegetables every day.
  • More than 20% drank soda at least once per day.

Obesity is linked to several chronic medical problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.  Not only do we worry about setting our children up for these serious medical issues, but among adults, the national medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at 147 billion dollars.

In response to these findings, the Nevada State Health Division (NSHD) has been working with the Nevada Nutrition Assistance Consortium to promote breastfeeding and increase the consumption of whole grains.

The government is working state-wide with childcare settings to establish nutrition and physical activity standards among certified child care providers. NSHD also provided several mini grants in our community to promote consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and increased physical activity. Finally, the division is working with the media to educate the public on making healthy choices in when dining out.

For more information about the childhood obesity epidemic and how it’s affecting our children, visit the American Heart Association.