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

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%.

Data interactive

National Obesity Monitor

See all of the most recent data on national obesity rates for children and adults, which come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This feature also lets you explore trends going back decades, and see differences by age group, sex, and race and ethnicity.

Explore the Data
priority POLICY

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

October 2020

Learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously referred to as food stamps, and see policy recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Visit the SNAP Policy Page
Young girl holds drawing of rainbow
FULL REPORT

Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic

October 2020

This report presents the latest childhood obesity rates and trends, expert insights, relevant research, and policy developments, including emergency relief efforts to support major federal nutrition programs. It highlights promising strategies for prioritizing children’s health and improving equity in response to the pandemic and throughout recovery.

Read the Report
Story

Home Visits May Help Prevent Obesity Among Young Native American Children

DECEMBER 2020

Native American children have the highest rates of obesity in the United States. A study found that nutrition-focused home-visiting intervention programs have an impact on infant’s health and decreases risk of early childhood obesity.

Read the Story