Prevalence and Trends in Overweight Among US Children and Adolescents, 1999–2000


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Abstract

ContextThe prevalence of overweight among children in the United States increased between 1976–1980 and 1988–1994, but estimates for the current decade are unknown.ObjectiveTo determine the prevalence of overweight in US children using the most recent national data with measured weights and heights and to examine trends in overweight prevalence.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsSurvey of 4722 children from birth through 19 years of age with weight and height measurements obtained in 1999–2000 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional, stratified, multistage probability sample of the US population.Main Outcome MeasurePrevalence of overweight among US children by sex, age group, and race/ethnicity. Overweight among those aged 2 through 19 years was defined as at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific body mass index (BMI) for age growth charts.ResultsThe prevalence of overweight was 15.5% among 12- through 19-year-olds, 15.3% among 6- through 11-year-olds, and 10.4% among 2- through 5-year-olds, compared with 10.5%, 11.3%, and 7.2%, respectively, in 1988–1994 (NHANES III). The prevalence of overweight among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American adolescents increased more than 10 percentage points between 1988–1994 and 1999–2000.ConclusionThe prevalence of overweight among children in the United States is continuing to increase, especially among Mexican-American and non-Hispanic black adolescents.

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