In an article published on April 28, 2016 by Mother Jones, journalist Tom Philpott reports on a new study finding that childhood obesity has steadily increased from 1999 to 2014 and is predicted to keep on rising. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Obesity and conducted by researchers Asheley Cockrell Skinner and colleagues from Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and other medical institutions in North Carolina, U.S.. The researchers analyzed body mass index (BMI) data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999–2014), and found that in 2013-2014 17.4% of children aged 2 to 19 were moderately obese (class I), 6.3% were mid-level obese (class II), and 2.4% were extremely obese (class III). Further, Skinner and colleagues observed a statistically significant increase in all classes of obesity from 1999 top 2014. In his article, Philpott discusses three factors contributing to rising childhood obesity: Nutrition, chemicals, and physical activity. In terms of nutrition, children in the U.S. still mainly eat processed “junk food” and few fresh vegetables, Philpott highlights. Further, he points to endocrine disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) and phthalates which are “ubiquitous in food packaging” and associated with metabolic disruption. Lastly, Philpott mentions low rates of physical activity among U.S. children that add to the obesity problem.
Another study, presented on May 1, 2016 at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Baltimore, U.S., found that chronic health conditions such as asthma, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have increased more significantly among children living in poverty as compared to wealthier children. Lead author Christian D. Pulcini and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and other academic medical institutions in the U.S., used NHANES data (2003-2012) for their analysis. According to Pulcini, “the findings highlight the importance of studying poverty and its impact on children’s health.” Poverty in turn may also influence children’s food quality, chemical exposure, and physical activity.
Tom Philpott (April 28, 2016). “Here’s why kids are still getting more obese.” Mother Jones
IFT (April 28, 2016). “U.S. childhood obesity has not decreased.”
Melissa Healy (April 25, 2016). “Child obesity has grown unabated since 1999, study finds.” Los Angeles Times
Melissa Healy (April 4, 2016). “Will obesity reverse the life-span gains made over decades of health triumphs?” Los Angeles Times
Science Daily (April 30, 2016). “Percentage of U.S. children who have chronic health conditions on the rise.”
Skinner, A.C. et al. (2016). “Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in U.S. children, 1999-2014.” Obesity (published online April 25, 2015).
Pulcini, C.D. et al. (2016). “National trends in prevalence and co-morbid chronic conditions among children with asthma, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting 2016 (presentation abstract).