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Overweight and Physical Activity Among Children:  A Portrait of States and the Nation, 2005
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Prevalence of Overweight in Children

For the survey parents were asked to give the height and weight of their children; these were used to calculate the child's Body Mass Index (BMI). Those children whose BMIs were at or above the 95th percentile for their age were considered to be overweight. Overall, 14.8 percent of children aged 10 to 17 years are classified as overweight.

The proportion of children who are overweight varies by a number of factors, including sex. Based on parent-reported height and weight, 18.1 percent of males are overweight, compared to 11.5 percent of females.

Prevalence of overweight appears to decrease as age increases: children aged 10 to 11 years are most likely to be overweight (21.9 percent), followed by those aged 12 to 14 years (14.4 percent); children aged 15 to 17 years are least likely to be overweight (10.7 percent).

The prevalence of overweight among children also varies by race and ethnicity. Black children are most likely to be overweight (23.5 percent) according to parent-reported height and weight, followed by Hispanic children (18.9 percent); White children are least likely to be overweight (12.0 percent). Multiracial children and children of other races have rates of overweight that are approximately equal (15.3 and 15.2 percent, respectively).

The prevalence of overweight decreases as family income rises. Of children with family incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level (FPL), almost one-quarter (22.4 percent) are overweight, compared to 19.0 percent of children with family incomes between 100 and 199 percent of FPL, 13.7 percent of children with family incomes between 200 and 399 percent of FPL, and 9.1 percent of children with family incomes of 400 percent of FPL or more.

Overweight among children also appears to be related to family structure. Children with two parents— either biological or adoptive—are least likely to be overweight (12.2 percent). Among children in twoparent families with at least one step-parent, 15.2 percent are overweight, while the same is true of 18.9 percent of children with a single mother and no father present and 18.1 percent of children with other family structures.

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This chartbook is based on data from the National Survey of Children's Health. Suggested citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The National Survey of Children's Health 2003. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005.