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Child Obesity Rates Going Up
Date:3/2/2010

Junk food intake is up, and many kids have few places to burn calories, studies find

TUESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- New research finds that the prevalence of obesity has grown in recent years among children aged 10 to 17, and certain kids are being especially hard hit.

And another study in the same journal points to a possible reason why: Kids are snacking on potato chips, candy and other fattening foods an average of almost three times per day.

The findings on obesity, which appear in the March issue of Health Affairs, are based on the U.S. National Survey of Children's Health.

The survey found that the obesity rate grew from 14.8 percent in 2003 to 16.4 percent in 2007. But the percentage of children who are simply overweight actually dropped a small amount -- from 15.7 percent to 15.3 percent.

"While combined overweight and obesity rates appear to be leveling off, our findings suggest a possible increase in the severity of the national childhood obesity epidemic, especially for certain subgroups of children and in certain states," principal investigator Christina Bethell, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative at Oregon Health & Science University, said in a news release from the the journal. "Nationally, one in three children is overweight or obese, but even in the states where the epidemic appears least threatening, nearly one in four children is affected, and that rises as high as one in every two for some groups of children in some states."

The study authors found that the highest rate of obesity and overweight combined was in Mississippi (44 percent) and lowest in Utah (23 percent). The rates for both conditions among poor children rose from 39.8 percent in 2003 to 44.8 percent in 2007; it was stable -- at about 22 percent -- among wealthier children and non-Hispanic children.

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