Childhood Obesity

Simons, Joan; Carter, Bernie; Dey, Paolo and Ivey, Jean (2013). Childhood Obesity. Journal of Child Health Care



Childhood obesity is now a well-established topic of interest, not only within society as a whole but also within the professional literature. The World Health Organisation estimates there are 42 million obese and overweight children under 5, and consider childhood obesity ‘one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century’ ( The rising prevalence of childhood obesity is often referred to as an ‘epidemic’ with words such as ‘tackling’, ‘fighting’, and ‘overcoming’ frequently used in relation to this ‘urgent’ and ‘grave’ threat. However, the statistics underpinning this epidemic are complex with prevalence varying between countries, regions, ethnicities and income. Within European Union countries between 2001 and 2010, the average reported rates of overweight and obesity increased from 11% to 13% of 15-year-olds, although the figures vary between different countries (OECD 2012). There is also evidence, in some countries such as the USA, to suggest that the overall rise in prevalence noted in the 1980s and 1990s has levelled off, with the overall figure of 16.9% being unchanged from 2007-2008 to 2009-2010 (Ogden et al. 2012). Studies of specific at-risk populations also reflect the complexity of the issue Pan et al.’s (2012) study of preschool-aged children in the US living in low-income families shows a decrease in the prevalence of extreme obesity.

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