A Closer Look at Obesity Rates in Kids

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Obesity among low income children reveals need to focus on specific groups

November 24, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) Children who are obese tend to be more likely than their peers to remain obese as adults. So, it's helpful to know which children are at higher risk for obesity.

A recent study found that about one in ten low-income young children were obese.

Black children were a little less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be obese.

Meanwhile, Hispanic and Native American children were a little more likely than other groups to be obese at ages 4 to 6.

Good news found in the study was that more than half the children who were obese as toddlers were no longer obese two years later.

"Ask your pediatrician about reducing your child's obesity risk."

The study, led by Liping Pan, MD, MPH, of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), looked at how common obesity was among low-income children in the US.

The researchers tracked approximately 1.2 million children, aged newborn to 2 years old, from 2008 through 2010-2011, when the children were 4 to 6 years old.

The researchers first determined how many of the children were obese at the start of the study, based on being in the highest fifth percentile for their age and sex on CDC growth charts.

During the follow-up period in 2010-2011, approximately 11 percent of the children were found to be obese — at or above the 95th percentile of body mass index for their age and sex.

Body mass index (BMI) is the ratio of a person's height to weight and is used to determine whether that person is a healthy weight or not.

Overall, boys were a little more likely than girls to be obese. Also, the risk of obesity among Hispanic children was 35 percent higher than that of white children.

The risk of obesity among Native American children was 49 percent higher than that of white children.

However, the risk of obesity among black children was 8 percent lower than that of white children.

One positive finding in the study was that almost two-thirds of the children who started out as obese were no longer obese at follow-up.

Among the children who were obese as infants or toddlers, 36.5 percent were still obese at follow-up while 63.5 percent were no longer obese.

However, the reduction of obesity occurred at lower rates among Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan Native children.

The researchers concluded that initiatives aimed at reducing obesity should particularly focus on Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan Native children.

The study was published November 25 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was internally funded, and the authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 24, 2013
Last Updated:
November 25, 2013