Magazine article Amber Waves

Households with at Least One Obese Child Differ in Several Ways from Those Without

Magazine article Amber Waves

Households with at Least One Obese Child Differ in Several Ways from Those Without

Article excerpt

The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 out of 5 children and adolescents (ages 2-19) were obese in 2011-14. (An obese child/adolescent is one whose body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific CDC BMI-for-age growth chart.)

To better understand childhood obesity, ERS researchers examined how households with at least one obese child (obese-child households) differ from those without obese children (nonobese-child households). Using USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS), the researchers found that children from obese-child households tend to live in a more disadvantaged environment compared with children from nonobese-child households. Their parents were more likely to be unmarried, less educated, unemployed, and obese themselves. For example, less than a quarter of mothers (23 percent) and fathers (21 percent) had a college degree or higher among obese-child households compared to over a third of mothers (35 percent) and fathers (38 percent) among nonobese-child households. Also, the shares of obese fathers and mothers were almost twice as large among obese-child households as the shares among nonobese-child households. …

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