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The term "epidemic" suggests a condition that is occurring more frequently and extensively among individuals in a community or population than is expected. This characterization clearly appears to apply to childhood obesity. In 2000, obesity was two to three times more common in children and youth than in a reference period in the early 1970s. The increase in obesity prevalence has been particularly striking since the late 1970s. The obesity epidemic affects both boys and girls and has occurred in all age, race, and ethnic groups throughout the United States (Ogden et al., 2002a).

The 1999-2000 NHANES found that approximately 10 percent of 2-to 5-year-old children were at or above the 95th percentile of BMI, repre-

2The NHANES series use the term "overweight" rather than "obese" to describe all children who are at or above the age- and gender-specific 95th percentile of BMI. However, this report uses the term "obese" to refer to those children (see Chapter 3).

FIGURE 2-1 Age-specific trends in child and adolescent obesity. NOTE: Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the age- and gender-specific 95th percentile cutoff points from the 2000 CDC BMI charts. Weight-for-length is used to track children aged 6 to 23 months (under 2 years of age). SOURCES: Ogden et al., 2002a; CDC, 2003.

FIGURE 2-1 Age-specific trends in child and adolescent obesity. NOTE: Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the age- and gender-specific 95th percentile cutoff points from the 2000 CDC BMI charts. Weight-for-length is used to track children aged 6 to 23 months (under 2 years of age). SOURCES: Ogden et al., 2002a; CDC, 2003.

senting twice the expected percentage; and that more than 15 percent of 6-to 19-year-olds met this criterion, representing about three times the expected percentage (Ogden et al., 2002a). No significant increases in obesity prevalence were reported between the 1999-2000 and the 2001-2002 NHANES (Hedley et al., 2004).

A significant, unabated increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity across all age groups is clearly seen in an analysis of serial national surveys from the early 1970s through the year 2000 (Figure 2-1). In the nearly 30 years between the 1971-1974 NHANES and the 1999-2000 NHANES, the prevalence of childhood obesity more than doubled for youth aged 12 to 19 years (from 6.1 percent to 15.5 percent) and more than tripled for children aged 6 to 11 years (4 percent to 15.3 percent). Even for preschool children, aged 2 to 5 years, the prevalence also more than doubled (5 percent to 10.4 percent) between these two national surveys (Ogden et al., 2002a). Data for children younger than 2 years of age, based on weight-for-length data available from NHANES II (6-23 months) onward also suggest an upward trend (Ogden et al., 2002a).

The same trends, stratified by gender, are shown in Figure 2-2 for infants and preschool children and in Figure 2-3 for school-aged children and adolescents. Among children older than 2 years of age, the increased prevalence of obesity over time has occurred to a similar degree in both

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5 Ways To Get Rid Of The Baby Fat

5 Ways To Get Rid Of The Baby Fat

Many women who have recently given birth are always interested in attempting to lose some of that extra weight that traditionally accompanies having a baby. What many of these women do not entirely realize is the fact that breast-feeding can not only help provide the baby with essential vitamins and nutrients, but can also help in the weight-loss process.

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