One in six children in the US has obesity

The latest report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has revealed that one in six children (aged 10 to 17 years) in the US has obesity. The report, ‘From Crisis to Opportunity: Reforming Our Nation’s Policies to Help All Children Grow Up Healthy’, shows that 16.2 percent of youths in 2019 to 2020 are living with obesity, a rate that has held steady for the last five years. The data for the report comes from the National Survey of Children's Health (2019 to 2020).

"Schools are providing all kids with healthy, free meals - whether they are open for in-person learning or operating virtually. Families face fewer barriers to enrolling in nutrition assistance programs and using their benefits," said Jamie Bussel, Senior Program Officer, RWJF. "Policymakers have increased monthly benefit levels in nutrition programs and are providing child tax credits to help families meet their kids’ needs. These changes have the potential to significantly decrease child hunger and poverty in this country. But many of these provisions are temporary emergency relief measures. We need to think bigger and bolder about permanent solutions that will strengthen our nation’s policies and expand support for kids and families for the long term."


Ethnic disparities are marked with Non-Hispanic Black (23.8 percent), Hispanic (21.4 percent) and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (28.7 percent) children reporting significantly higher obesity rates, compared to White children (12.1 percent) and Asian children (8.1 percent).


There are also significant differences between the states - Kentucky has the highest youth obesity rate (23.8 percent) and Montana the lowest (10.0 percent). Six states had youth obesity rates significantly higher than the national rate (16.2%): Kentucky (23.8%), Mississippi (22.3%), Louisiana (22.2%), West Virginia (21.9%), Alabama (21.8%) and Tennessee (20.8%). However, 11 states had youth obesity rates significantly lower than the national rate (16.2%): Montana (10%), Arizona (10.2%), Utah (10.3%), North Dakota (10.5%), Wyoming (11.0%), Colorado (11.2%), New York (11.5%), Kansas (11.7%), Minnesota (11.7%), Massachusetts (12.2%) and Nebraska (12.6%).


There were also significant differences based on household income - in 2019-2020, obesity rates ranged from 8.6 percent among youth in the highest income group to 23.1 percent among youth in the lowest income group.


To access this report, please click here