Toddler Obesity Facts

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on August 14, 2012

Did you know that 35.7% of U.S. adults and about 17% of youth in the United States are obese? Obesity in children is high in low income families due to very limited access to opportunities for physical health and healthy food choices. They mainly depend on easily accessible junk or low-cost food with little nutritional value. Access to recreation facilities, green space, parks and restricted sidewalks, are also sparse.


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Owing to these factors, the risk of toddler obesity in low-income families is high. Here are a few facts about toddler obesity in America.

  • Obesity in children has tripled in the past 30 years
  • Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same sex and age.

  • 70% of children have at least one cardiovascular disease.

Toddler obesity could arise from one particular factor or many contributing factors that work together to cause this condition. It is rather difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for obesity. Some of these factors are -

  • Genetic factors: studies have shown to prove that genetic characteristics could increase a child's susceptibility to obesity. Genes may need to work in conjunction with environmental and behavioral factors however genetic aspects can alone play a role in obesity.
  • Behavioral factors: this could be due to multiple reasons such as energy intake, physical activity and sedentary behavior.
  • Environmental factors: child care, school and community environments can also be contributing factors in obesity. Toddlers spend most of their time at home or in child daycare center. Interactions with parents and daycare center staff should include encouragement and practice of a good diet.

Obese children could experience immediate health effects and be a foundation for weight related problems in adulthood. Children affected by obesity could be at a risk of social discrimination, cardiovascular diseases and additional health risks such as type 2 diabetes.

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