An initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

New Data Compares Latest Child Obesity Rates By Age, Gender, and Race

Ages 10-17 Ages 2-4


January 14th, 2020


Nearly one in five young people in the United States has obesity. Current data, from the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), shows that 19.3% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 2–19 years have obesity.

The newest data, published in December, reinforce that child obesity rates vary dramatically across age, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. The obesity rate among young people ages 12-19 is 21.2%, compared to 20.3% for youth ages 6-11 and 13.4% for the youngest group, ages 2-5. Obesity rates are higher among boys than girls.

Communities of color continue to be significantly impacted by obesity, causing racial and ethnic disparities in rates to persist. Based on the latest findings, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic youth have the highest rates of obesity, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and putting them at greater risk for severe consequences from COVID-19. By gender, obesity rates were higher for non-Hispanic Black girls (29.1%) and Hispanic boys (28.1%). Non-Hispanic Asian children had the lowest obesity rates across all races, with the rate among boys at 12.4% and for girls, 5.1%.