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Increasing Pediatric Obesity in the United States

Steven L. Gortmaker, PhD; William H. Dietz Jr, MD, PhD; Arthur M. Sobol, MA; Cheryl A. Wehler, MS
Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(5):535-540. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460050077035.
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• Data from four national surveys indicate pronounced increases in the prevalence of pediatric obesity in the United States. Obese children are defined as those with triceps skinfolds greater than or equal to the 85th percentile of children of the same age and sex In 1963 to 1970. Superobese children are those with skinfolds greater than or equal to the 95th percentile. Compared with skinfold data from the 1963 to 1965 National Health Examination Survey, cycle 2, skinfold data from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted from 1976 to 1980, indicate a 54% increase in the prevalence of obesity among children 6 to 11 years old and a 98% increase in the prevalence of superobesity. Compared with skinfold data from the 1966 to 1970 National Health Examination Survey, cycle 3, skinfold data from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate a 39% increase in the prevalence of obesity among children 12 to 17 years old and a 64% increase in the prevalence of superobeslty. Increases occurred among children of all ages and both sexes and for both blacks and whites. Blood pressure data from the four surveys suggest that the share of pediatric hypertension associated with obesity has Increased. Such rapid increases in obesity indicate that environmental causes are likely responsible.

(AJDC 1987;141:535-540)

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