Over half of today's children in the United States will be obese at the age of 35 if existing trends continue, despite the fact that currently, less than 20% of them are obese, a new simulated growth trajectory model indicates.
"Right now, about 17% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 have obesity," lead author of the new research, Zachary Ward, MPH, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, explained in an email to Medscape Medical News.
In the United States, obesity has declined recently among children between the ages of 2 and 5 years and has stabilized among those between the ages of 6 and 11 years of age but continues to rise among adolescents and adults, say Dr Ward and colleagues.
Approximately half of the prevalence of obesity seen in adulthood begins in childhood, while the remainder is explained by adult-onset obesity.
"It is critically important to implement policies and programs to prevent excess weight gain, starting at an early age," stressed senior author Steven Gortmaker, PhD, also of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.