Childhood overweight and obesity – how big a problem is it?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released its top 10 list of threats to global health in 2019. Number two on that list is noncommunicable diseases, many of which are related to overweight and obesity.  Obesity is associated with noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,  which account for 70% of deaths worldwide – 41 million people, including 15 million who tragically die prematurely.  The WHO identifies unhealthy diet and physical inactivity as two of five driving risk factors.   

mom with a doctor

The WHO’s figures account for risks worldwide, but even in the US, the threat to health is high. Here in the US, it’s predicted that 40% of all children born between 2000 and 2001 will develop diabetes in their lifetimes (CDC), and that figure is even higher for African-American and Latino children.  In central Indiana, 220,000 kids are at significantly higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer because of their weight (CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey; 2013 Census data).  In 2005, 34% of children 0-18 were considered overweight or obese; that number grew to 43% in 2015 and without the right interventions, that number is projected to hit 53% by 2025.  If you’re a regular reader of Jump IN’s blog, you know that Jump IN was created to address this very issue. Our work is to integrate the best practice interventions into our community to slow that growing number and reverse it by 2025.   It’s important to remember why that number has gotten so high, so that we can all consider our own habits and make a plan to stop contributing to the factors that are making our kids overweight and obese: 

What can you do right now to make a difference?  Here are three things you can do today to start moving in the right direction in your health in the health of those around you: 

  • Talk to your child’s school or child care about its wellness policy. We have a school wellness toolkit and other resources on our website.
  • If you’re connected to an organization that could benefit from 5-2-1-0 programming and/or messaging, reach out to us.  
  • Be a role model. Practice 5-2-1-0 and offer healthy options where food is served. Be mindful of portion sizes. Engage in active play with your family.  Limit screen time.
5210 - 5 fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugar-sweetened beverages

We have many, many more tools to help support making healthy choices – in your life, at work, at your child’s school or child carechurch and even in your local food pantry.   Visit our Resource Hub for hundreds of resources and if you can’t find something you’re looking for, contact us.  

You can learn more about the World Health Organization and it’s top 10 heath threats here.