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Historical Data Show Childhood Obesity Epidemic is Recent and Sudden

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To identify whether the obesity epidemic is entirely a recent phenomenon or a continuation of longstanding trends, researchers supported by the Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch analyzed data from a longitudinal study of more than 1,100 children who were born between 1930 and 1993.

For those cohorts:

  • The prevalence of obesity rose from 0% to 14% among boys, and from 2% to 12% among girls.
  • The prevalence of overweight rose from 10% to 28% among boys, and from 9% to 21% among girls.

Among the boys, all of the increase began after the birth year 1970. Among girls, obesity began to rise after birth year 1980, but overweight was already rising as early as the 1930s and 1940s.

The results show that although some rise in body weight is a longstanding trend, most of the child obesity epidemic is recent and sudden (PMID: 23512972).

Last Updated Date: 05/01/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 05/01/2014
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology