1.What is the obesity problem?
The normal range for body mass index (BMI) in children varies with age and sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines obesity as a BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile. It has published tables for determining this in children.

The rate of obesity among children and adolescents in the United States has nearly tripled between the early 1980s and 2000. It has however not changed significantly between 2000 and 2006 with the most recent statistics showing a level just over 17 percent. In 2008, the rate of overweight and obese children in the United States was 32%, and had stopped climbing. In 2011, a national cohort study of infants and toddlers found that nearly one-third of US children were overweight or obese at 9 months and 2 years old.

2.Describe its future impact.
According to, 9 million children were overweight at the time of publication. As they age, they have an increased risk for heart disease. There is a correlation between childhood BMI and future heart disease and increased rates of heart-related deaths. KidsHealth also reports that obese children are at greater risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, are prone to depression and substance abuse. Obesity in children is linked to the development of serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, shortness of breath and asthma, sleep problems, earlier sexual and physical maturation, liver disease and gallbladder disease.

3.What we need to do about it.
Some steps we should take:
Protect your home from unhealthy influences.
Be an example to your kids — make healthy choices for yourself.
David Ludwing, MDDirector of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital, Boston

Make fun, less healthy food choices the exception, not the rule.
Know when to say no.
Christina Economos, PhDFriedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Tufts University

Take action in your own community to fight obesity.
Mayor Joe CurtatoneSomerville, Mass.

4.What are we actually doing about it?
Government, state and local health programs have been developed and implemented, and these programs focus primarily on the major components of diet aids, exercise, and lifestyle changes.