More American Children and Teens are Overweight

For Release: Monday, March 12, 2001

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800


Prevalence of Overweight Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999

The latest findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that more and more children and teens are overweight, continuing the pattern the survey documented over the past two decades when the number of overweight children and teens nearly doubled. The initial results for 1999 show 13 percent of children ages 6-11 years are overweight, up from 11 percent in the previous NHANES survey conducted from 1988 to 1994. The number of overweight teenagers 12-19 years increased from 11 to 14 percent in the same time period.

“Overweight children are at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other serious health problems. They are part of an epidemic of overweight and obesity that must be addressed so that they can lead healthier lives,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This survey provides the critical information we need on overweight, diet, and physical activity to help develop the strategies for healthier children and families.”

The latest data on overweight are being released today by Dr. Koplan at an open house of the state-of-the-art mobile examination center. The center is operated by CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the Nation’s most extensive health and nutrition survey. NHANES travels across the country to reach a representative sample of the U.S. population, and is currently in DeKalb County where more than 500 county residents will be asked to take part in the survey. Coincidentally, CDC’s headquarters is located in DeKalb County.

The NHANES open house is hosted by Dr. Koplan. The Honorable Cynthia McKinney, who represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional District in DeKalb County and Johnny Isakson who represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are expected to attend.

The mobile examination center utilizes the latest medical technology and is staffed by a team of health personnel, including a physician, dentist, nutritionists, and health and laboratory technicians. Tests performed include a physical examination by a physician, as well as a dietary interview, body measurements, and dental examination. There is also a fitness test, where many participants will walk on a treadmill while technicians assess their cardiovascular health. Survey participants first complete a health interview conducted in the home by a trained interviewer. No medical care is provided in the examination center, but medical and dental reports of findings are offered free to each participant. All individual information collected in the survey is kept strictly confidential, and privacy is protected by public law.

NHANES takes the pulse of the Nation’s health, producing information such as the number of Americans who have heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, tuberculosis, and other conditions; the extent of risk factors such as high cholesterol and overweight; and patterns of environmental exposure.

The information gathered by NHANES is used by public health officials, legislators, and researchers to develop sound health policies, direct and design health programs and services, and expand the health knowledge for the Nation.

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.