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Pediatrics. 1997 Apr;99(4):E1.

Prevalence of overweight among preschool children in the United States, 1971 through 1994.

Author information

  • 1Division of Health Examination Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the prevalence of overweight among US preschool children 2 months through 5 years of age between the years 1971 through 1974 and 1988 through 1994.

DESIGN:

Nationally representative cross-sectional surveys with a physical examination, including measurement of stature, length, and weight. Between 1200 and 7500 children younger than 6 years were examined in each of four different surveys during 1971 through 1974 (first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES I]), 1976 through 1980 (NHANES II), 1982 through 1984 (Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), and 1988 through 1994 (NHANES III).

RESULTS:

The prevalence of overweight increased among some sex and age groups of preschool children between 1971 through 1974 and 1988 through 1994. More than 10% of 4- and 5-year-old girls were overweight in 1988 through 1994 compared with 5.8% in 1971 through 1974. However, there was no change during this period in the prevalence of overweight among 1- and 2- to 3-year-old children. During 1988 through 1994, the prevalence of overweight among children 2 months through 5 years of age was consistently higher in girls than boys. Mexican-American children had a higher prevalence of overweight than non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white children. These results parallel what has been reported for older children and adults in the United States.

CONCLUSION:

These results show that in the last 20 years the prevalence of overweight has increased among 4- and 5-year-old children but not among younger children. These findings suggest that efforts to prevent overweight, including encouragement of physical activity and improved diets, should begin in early childhood.

PMID:
9099776
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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