Two Children

No, Childhood Obesity Is Not Plateauing

People opine every day about childhood obesity. Some of the words inform and some inflame. But most disturbing is constant flow of wishful reports that childhood obesity is plateauing. In December, headlines flowed with “good news” about “fewer chubby babies.” The cause was a study published in Pediatrics that, according to its authors, “cannot be considered representative of infants in the populations.”

The desire for good news is understandable. But a new report from FAIR Health tells us that all that joy is a little premature. This national clearinghouse for health insurance claims tells us that diagnoses for obesity and all its complications are rising for children of all ages. Claims for obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and prediabetes are all rising.

These statistics on private insurance claims do not represent data on prevalence of the problem in the entire population. But they certainly present an alarming picture of the rising impact of obesity on children’s health at every age. President Robin Gelburd of FAIR Health says:

These findings not only raise quality-of-life questions for children, but also questions about the kind of resources that will be necessary to address this emerging situation.

Glib assurances that “we’re making progress” are simply misleading. The medical consequences of childhood obesity are certainly not plateauing. Pretending otherwise leads to neglecting the health of millions of children with severe obesity.

Click here for the report from FAIR Health and here for more from NPR.

Two Children, Painting by Vincent van Gogh / WikiArt

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January 13, 2017

2 Responses to “No, Childhood Obesity Is Not Plateauing”

  1. January 13, 2017 at 7:40 pm, Chester Draws said:

    These statistics on private insurance claims do not represent data on prevalence of the problem in the entire population.

    Yes. Correct

    But they certainly present an alarming picture of the rising impact of obesity on children’s health at every age.

    Sorry? Didn’t you just say, the very sentence before, that the figures cannot be used this way?

    More people identifying the disease du jour? Well I be!

    You are right the first time. Private insurance claims are no evidence at all about the population’s obesity. Please don’t go round pretending that they are.

    In fact actual childhood obesity is plateauing, which is why lots of people are saying that it is.

  2. January 14, 2017 at 4:07 am, Ted said:

    Thanks for taking time to comment, Chester.

    People continue to debate overall trends in childhood obesity, with some scientists finding a clear increase through 2014. Others think they see mixed trends. But the findings are consistent across all studies that severe obesity in children is growing. Hence, the health impact of obesity, which disproportionately comes from severe obesity, is growing. These data on health claims related to obesity in children reflect that fact. While I wish this were not so, facts – not wishes – carry the day.