The State of Childhood Obesity

The federal government has several sources that track obesity rates among children and teens, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and three major studies that track national trends and rates within some states. Data from each of these sources is available below. This site also summarizes policies and programs that aim to create settings in early childhood, schools and communities that can help children grow up at a healthy weight.

National Data

Childhood Obesity Trends

The national childhood obesity rate is 18.5%. The rate varies among different age groups and rises as children get older: 13.9% of 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 20.6% of 12- to 19-year-olds have obesity. There also are striking racial and ethnic disparities, 25.8% of Latino children and 22% of Black children have obesity. Learn more from the latest surveys and trends.

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Obesity Data by Childhood Age Group

Updated: June 2018

High Schoolers

The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) shows that 14.8% of U.S. high school students had obesity. An additional 15.6% of high schoolers were overweight. 

Interactive Data
Updated: October 2018

Youth Ages 10 to 17

The 2016-17 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found obesity rates for children and teens ages 10 to 17 ranged from a low of 8.7% in Utah to a high of 26.1% in Mississippi.

Interactive Data
Updated: November 2016

WIC Preschoolers

A nationwide study found a decline in obesity rates—from 15.9% in 2010 to 14.5% in 2014—among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children).  

Interactive Data

Updated: June 2018

The Nutrition Habits of U.s. High School Students (1999-2017)

In recent years, there has been a decline in daily soda consumption among high school students, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent data reveal that among U.S. high school students, 18.7% drank soda at least once a day in 2017, down from 20.4% in 2015 and 27% in 2013.

Interactive Data

Updated: June 2018

Physical Activity habits of U.S. High School Students (1991-2017)

High school students are watching less television, but spending more recreational time on computers and struggling to get enough physical activity. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that among U.S. high school students, 43% used a computer three or more hours a day for fun outside of school work, up from 41.7% in 2015 and 41.3% in 2013.

Interactive Data

Updated: September 2018

SNAP Stories

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping feed more than 40 million Americans each month. Learn more about the critical support SNAP provides to families and individuals across the country, including firsthand accounts from program participants in Michigan, Kansas, Alabama, Texas, Washington state and more.

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Priority Obesity-Prevention Policies

National Policies

Strong policies can play a key role in addressing America’s obesity epidemic. Learn about national policy efforts to improve access to healthy foods, support physical activity and more.

See All Policies

State Policies

This interactive feature tracks the status of each state’s efforts on more than 20 policies aimed at preventing obesity and supporting health in early childhood, schools and communities.

Visit Interactive

Fast Facts

31

Thirty-one states reported a significant drop in obesity among 2- to 4-year-old WIC participants from 2010 to 2014.

4x

Since 1980, obesity rates
among teens ages 12 to 19 quadrupled,
from 5% to 20.6%.

$14B

In the U.S., childhood obesity alone is estimated to cost $14 billion annually in direct health expenses.