Every child deserves the best start in life. Teaching kids healthy habits from the start will help them learn to make healthy choices as they grow older.

About childhood obesity

Weight management and the increase in obesity are health concerns for children and youth in the United States. There are many reasons that contribute to the increase in overweight and obesity which make it a difficult subject to address. Behavior, environment, genetics, and access to healthcare are factors that play a role in one's weight and general health outcomes. The ability to make healthy choices and lead a healthy lifestyle greatly decreases a person's risk of developing chronic disease.

  • One in five children is overweight or obese by age 6
  • Three times more children are obese today than 30 years ago
  • Among preschoolers aged 2 to 5 years, obesity rates have doubled over the past four decades
  • A 2008-09 school year BMI assessment of Idaho students in all odd grades (First through 11) found that overall, 30.5 percent of Idaho school children sampled were classified as overweight or obese. The study found that significantly more boys were obese than girls.
  • Based on results of the 2011-12 Idaho Third Grade BMI Assessment and the 2011 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, there are an estimated 6,200 (29 percent) overweight or obese third grade students and 17,700 (23 percent) overweight or obese high school students (grades 9 through 12) in Idaho. 
Obesity-related conditions

With the rise in childhood overweight and obesity, there has also been a rise in children diagnosed with conditions that were traditionally seen in adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and early signs of heart disease. Due to the prevalence of chronic conditions often associated with obesity and the rising trend of obesity in children and youth, today's generation of children will likely live shorter lives than their parents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the following obesity-related conditions are the most prevalent, costly, and avoidable:

  • Heart disease 
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon) 
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Other health problems suffered by overweight individuals (more than those who maintain normal weight) include:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes 
  • Liver and gallbladder disease 
  • Sleep apnea, asthma, and other respiratory problems 
  • Osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal problems
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
  • Social and psychological problems 

See the Diseases & Conditions section for more information on symptoms and prevention.

little girl eating healthy food
Learn more about Body Mass Index (BMI)
By the Numbers
Percent of Idaho school children classified as overweight or obese (in 2008 sample)
More children are obese today than 30 years ago

National resources

External Resources
Regular physical activity can improve your overall health and fitness, and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. Find out what you can do to be active.
External Resources
A great resource for parents and teachers, including customizable growth charts and food group information, tips for picky eaters, food safety for preschoolers, and more.
External Resources
As parents or other concerned adults, what steps can you take to prevent obesity in your children? This page provides answers as well as resources to help you keep your family healthy.