Child Obesity Statistics & Teenage Obesity Statistics: 1963 to Present

Child obesity statistics and teenage obesity statistics have been tracked since 1963 (1) (2). Between then and now, the rate of obese children and teens has gone from about 4.5% (1 in 22) to almost 17% (1 in 6).

This page breaks down the childhood obesity statistics (6 to 11 years old) and teen obesity statistics (12 to 19 years old) as follows:

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Note: Obesity in children and teens is classified as having an age- and gender-specific body mass index at or above the 95th percentile.

Youth Weight Statistics By Geography
The Midwest and South Have the Highest Rates of Obesity
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Youth Weight Statistics By Geography – The Midwest and South Have the Highest Rates of Obesity

The prevalence of overweight/obese children (10-17 years old) varies by region. States in the South have the highest rates, Western states have the lowest. The Midwest and Northeast are similar, both averaging around a 30% overweight/obesity rate.

Percentage of 10-17 Year Olds Overweight or Obese by Region and State (2016)
Percentage of 10-17 Year Olds Overweight or Obese by Region and State (2016)
West – 26%
West – 26%
Midwest – 31%
Midwest – 31%
South – 34%
South – 34%
Northeast – 29%
Northeast – 29%
Percentage of 10-17 Year Olds Overweight or Obese by Region and State (2016)
West – 26%
California – 31.2%
Nevada – 30.5%
Colorado – 27.2%
Wyoming – 27.1%
Arizona – 26.9%
Alaska – 26.3%
Idaho – 26%
Hawaii – 25.5%
Washington – 25.5%
New Mexico – 24.9%
Montana – 23.2%
Oregon – 20.3%
Utah 19.2%
Midwest – 31%
North Dakota – 37.1%
Indiana – 33.9%
Ohio – 33.1%
Michigan – 32.0%
South Dakota – 31.4%
Kansas – 30.9%
Iowa – 29.9%
Wisconsin – 29.5%
Missouri – 29.4%
Nebraska – 29.2%
Minnesota – 27.7%
Illinois – 27%
South – 34%
Tennessee – 37.7%
Mississippi – 37%
Florida – 36.6%
West Virginia – 35.1%
Alabama – 35.5%
Louisiana – 34.0%
Arkansas – 33.9%
Kentucky – 33.5%
Texas – 33.3%
South Carolina – 32.9%
Georgia – 32.2%
North Carolina – 30.9%
Virginia 27.2%
Northeast – 29%
Rhode Island – 36.3%
DC – 31.8%
Maryland – 33.6%
New York – 31.8%
Pennsylvania – 31.7%
New Jersey – 31.7%
Delaware – 30.9%
Connecticut – 30.2%
Maine – 28.2%
Massachusetts – 26.6%
New Hampshire – 23.8%
Vermont – 22.2%

Youth Obesity Statistics By Age & Gender
Sharp Increase Across The Board Starting In The Late 70’s
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Youth Obesity Statistics By Age & Gender: Sharp Increase Across The Board Starting In The Late 70’s

Both males and females have seen significant increases in obesity rates over the last 45 years, although the rate of obese female children and teenagers is now slightly lower than that of obese males.

For children aged 6 to 11, the obesity rates for boys and girls were virtually identical until around 1999 when the rate of obese boys began to increase at a faster rate. As of the latest data, 21.2% of boys were obese compared to 18% of girls.

Teenagers aged 12 to 19 have shown a similar trend, with obesity in male teenagers most recently reaching 19.3% versus obese female teenagers who were most recently recorded at 16.8%.

The following chart and spreadsheet compare three groups for the childhood and teenage age ranges:

  • Both genders
  • Male only
  • Female only
child obesity statistics

Obesity Percentages By Age and Gender

Both (6-11)
Both (6-11)
Both (12-19)
Both (12-19)
Male (6-11)
Male (6-11)
Male (12-19)
Male (12-19)
Female (6-11)
Female (6-11)
Female (12-19)
Female (12-19)
 
1963 -70
Both (6-11)
4.2%
Both (12-19)
4.6%
Male (6-11)
4.0%
Male (12-19)
4.5%
Female (6-11)
4.5%
Female (12-19)
4.7%
 
1971 -74
Both (6-11)
4.0%
Both (12-19)
6.1%
Male (6-11)
4.3%
Male (12-19)
6.1%
Female (6-11)
3.6%
Female (12-19)
6.2%
 
1976 -80
Both (6-11)
6.5%
Both (12-19)
5.0%
Male (6-11)
6.6%
Male (12-19)
4.8%
Female (6-11)
6.4%
Female (12-19)
5.3%
 
1988 -94
Both (6-11)
11.3%
Both (12-19)
10.5%
Male (6-11)
11.6%
Male (12-19)
11.3%
Female (6-11)
11.0%
Female (12-19)
9.7%
 
1999 -2002
Both (6-11)
15.8%
Both (12-19)
16.1%
Male (6-11)
16.9%
Male (12-19)
16.7%
Female (6-11)
14.7%
Female (12-19)
15.4%
 
2007 -08
Both (6-11)
19.6%
Both (12-19)
18.1%
Male (6-11)
21.2%
Male (12-19)
19.3%
Female (6-11)
18.0%
Female (12-19)
16.8%

Youth Obesity Statistics By Age & Race/Ethnicity
Sharp Increase Across The Board Starting In The Late 70’s; Some Decline In Some Groups Starting In Late 90’s
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Youth Obesity Statistics By Age & Race/Ethnicity: Sharp Increase Across The Board Starting In The Late 70’s; Some Decline In Some Groups Starting In Late 90’s

Childhood and teen obesity statistics broken out by race/ethnicity have been available since 1976 for 3 ethnicities:

  • Blacks/African Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Whites

Of the three ethnicities evaluated, Hispanics/Latinos have the highest childhood obesity rates (6 to 11 years old) while African Americans have the highest teenage obesity rates (12 to 19 years old).

Whites had the lowest obesity rates in both age groups, although the obesity rates for whites were still alarmingly high at 19% of children and 15.6% of teens.

The following spreadsheet and chart compares the 3 tracked ethnicities for both the childhood and teen age groups…

child obesity statistics

Obesity Percentages By Age and Ethnicity

All (6-11)
All (6-11)
All (12-19)
All (12-19)
White (6-11)
White (6-11)
White (12-19)
White (12-19)
Black (6-11)
Black (6-11)
Black (12-19)
Black (12-19)
Latino (12-19)
Latino (12-19)
Latino(12-19)
Latino (12-19)
 
1963 -70
All (6-11)
4.2%
All (12-19)
4.6%
White (6-11)
n/a
White (12-19)
n/a
Black (6-11)
n/a
Black (12-19)
n/a
Latino (12-19)
n/a
Latino (12-19)
n/a
 
1971 -74
All (6-11)
4.0%
All (12-19)
6.1%
White (6-11)
n/a
White (12-19)
n/a
Black (6-11)
n/a
Black (12-19)
n/a
Latino (12-19)
n/a
Latino (12-19)
n/a
 
1976 -80
All (6-11)
6.5%
All (12-19)
5.0%
White (6-11)
6.1%
White (12-19)
3.8%
Black (6-11)
6.8%
Black (12-19)
6.1%
Latino (12-19)
13.3%
Latino (12-19)
7.7%
 
1988 -94
All (6-11)
11.3%
All (12-19)
10.5%
White (6-11)
10.7%
White (12-19)
11.6%
Black (6-11)
12.3%
Black (12-19)
10.7%
Latino (12-19)
17.5%
Latino (12-19)
14.1%
 
1999 -2002
All (6-11)
15.8%
All (12-19)
16.1%
White (6-11)
14.0%
White (12-19)
14.6%
Black (6-11)
17.0%
Black (12-19)
18.7%
Latino (12-19)
26.5%
Latino (12-19)
24.7%
 
2007 -08
All (6-11)
19.6%
All (12-19)
18.1%
White (6-11)
19.0%
White (12-19)
15.6%
Black (6-11)
19.4%
Black (12-19)
24.4%
Latino (12-19)
25.1%
Latino (12-19)
21.7%

Impact Of Childhood Obesity
Increased Likelihood Of Adult Obesity
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Impact Of Childhood Obesity: Increased Likelihood Of Adult Obesity

Does being an obese child or teenager make one more likely to become an obese adult?

Yes… the more overweight and the older the obese child is, the more likely he or she is to become an obese adult (3).

Just how likely varies by study…

  • Study 1 found that about one-third of children who are obese in preschool and about half of school-age children become obese adults.
  • Study 2 found that about 2 out of every 3 children in the 95th percentile or above had a body mass index of at least 35 as adults.
  • Study 3 found that compared with children with a body mass index below the 50th percentile, kids between the 50th and 74th percentiles about five times more likely to become overweight adults and those with a body mass index between the 75th and 84th percentiles were up to 20 times more likely.
  • According to the Surgeon General, overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. The likelihood increases to 80% if one or both parents are overweight or obese.
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References

  1. Health, United States, 2004. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Table: Overweight children and adolescents 6-19 years of age, according to sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin: United States, selected years 1963-65 through 1999-2002.
  2. Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD et al. Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3):242-249. Published online January 13, 2010 (doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2012).
  3. Serdula MK, et al. Do Obese Children Become Obese Adults? A Review of the Literature. Natl Ctr Chron Dis Prevent & Hlth Promot, Div Nutr; Emory Univ, Sch Med; Emory Univ, Sch Publ Hlth, Div Epidemiol.

[ Last editorial review/modification of this page : 04/18/2018]

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