Rates of childhood and adolescent obesity have been on a steady climb for decades. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Today, one of every threeExternal Link children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. Only recently have reportsExternal Link emerged that for select parts of the child population, obesity rates dropped in 2013.

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health. Obese children are more likely to be at riskExternal Link for cardiovascular disease, prediabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and other social and psychological problems. They are also five times more likely to become overweight or obese adults.

While obesity is easily defined as eating or drinking more calories that one burns through physical activity, solving the childhood obesity epidemic is not straightforward. Obesity is a multi-faceted public health issue that requires communities, families, government, industry, primary care and public health organization working together to change environments to better support healthy, active living. Successfully corralling these disparate groups and establishing partnerships not only takes time, but a catalyst that makes change seem possible.

Map of Obesity Rates Among 2- to 4-year-olds from Low-Income Families 2011

Source: Trust for America's Health, "F as in Fat 2013" - Obesity Rates & Trends External Link