Childhood obesity in America is on the rise, and at rates higher than previous studies suggested, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The findings emerged after researchers analyzed federal data from the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the “gold standard” in childhood and fitness research which every two years collects data about adult and children obesity across the country.
In 1999, according to the survey, about 29 percent—more than a quarter—of children ages 2 to 19 were overweight. By 2016, that figure rose to 35 percent, according to the latest analysis, and about one in five children are obese.
Asheley Cockrell Skinner, an associate professor at Duke University and lead study author who has worked with these data for more than a decade, said she has seen in her research that “once a kid has developed obesity, it’s a lot harder to change it. It’s much easier to prevent obesity than it is to reverse it.”