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Obesity Rates for Youth Ages 10 to 17

Updated October 2020: Roughly one in seven U.S. youth ages 10-17, 15.5%, have obesity according to the newest available data. The newest data come from the combined 2018-19 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), along with analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Key findings include:

  • Racial and ethnic disparities persist. In 2018-2019, non-Hispanic Asian children had the lowest obesity rate (5.9%) followed by non-Hispanic white children and non-Hispanic multiple race children (11.7% and 14.7%, respectively). Obesity rates were significantly higher for Hispanic (20.7%), non-Hispanic Black (22.9%), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (28.5%), and non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (39.8%) children.
  • There are also disparities by income level: 21.5% of youth in households making less than the federal poverty level had obesity, more than double the 8.8% of youth in households making at least 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Kentucky had the highest overall youth obesity rate, 23.8%, and Utah had the lowest, 9.6%.
  • Five states had obesity rates that were statistically significantly higher than the national rate in 2018-19: Kentucky (23.8%), Mississippi (22.3%), South Carolina (22.1%), Tennessee (20.4%), and Arkansas (20.2%).
  • Eight states had obesity rates that were statistically significantly lower than the national rate in 2018-19: Utah (9.6%), Minnesota (9.9%), Kansas (10.6%), Montana (10.6%), New York (10.7%), Colorado (10.9%), Hawaii (11.1%) and Nebraska (11.5%).

In recent years, the NSCH was significantly redesigned, and the 2016 survey was the first to reflect those changes. Due to changes in the survey’s mode of data collection and sampling frame it is not possible to directly compare results from the 2016 or later years to earlier iterations. Since 2016, the NSCH has been conducted as an annual survey and will continue to collect new data each year going forward, so trends over time can be evaluated, with 2016 data serving as a new baseline. However, additional years of data are needed before trends over time can be reliably assessed. In 2016, the NSCH utilized an increased sample size to support state-level analyses with a single year of data collection. Starting in 2017, state-level estimates are produced using two-year combined data.

Note: In the interactive below, the year 2016 represents data for just that year, but subsequent years represent combined datasets, i.e., 2017 represents combined 2016-17 data, 2018 represents combined 2017-18 data, etc.

Obesity Rate, Youth Ages 10-17,

Obesity rates, children ages 10 to 17

Note: On the line graph, the label 2016 refers to 2016 data, 2017 refers to combined 2016-17 data, and 2018 refers to combined 2017-18 data.

Source: The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) collects information on the health of children in the United States who are 0-17 years old. Parents or caregivers are asked to report their child’s height and weight, which can be used to calculate body-mass index (BMI) for children 10-17 years. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) funds and directs the NSCH and develops survey content in collaboration with a national technical expert panel and the U.S. Census Bureau, which then conducts the survey on behalf of HRSA MCHB. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation worked with HRSA MCHB to disseminate the latest obesity data.