• Fact Sheet
  • September 2, 2016

Childhood Obesity Facts and Trends

Childhood obesity is recognized as one of the greatest public health threats facing today’s children. 

  • More than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012 (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, Flegal, 2014)
  • Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years (Ogden, et al., 2014; National Center for Health Statistics, 2011; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012)
  • Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent likelihood of becoming overweight adults (Office of the Surgeon General, 2010)

Childhood obesity is estimated to cost the United States more than $14 billion annually (Brookings Institution, 2010), a figure that jumps to approximately $168 billion when obese children become obese adults (childrennow.org). A 2007 study by Thomson Healthcare and Child Health Corporation of America projected that between 2006 and 2020, morbidities associated with childhood obesity will prompt hospitals to spend at least $8.6 billion (in 2007 dollars) for construction of additional beds to care for these patients.  

No matter what the costs, there’s no denying the need. In the Children’s Hospital Association’s 2013 Obesity Services Survey, approximately 61 percent of respondents said childhood obesity was an area of concern on their hospital’s most recent community health needs assessment.