The latest data show that the national childhood obesity rate among 2- to 19-year-olds is 18.5 percent. The rate varies among different age groups, with rates rising along with age. While overall obesity rates remain higher than they were a generation ago, the rise in rates has slowed in recent years, following decades of sharp increases starting in the early 1970s. The following information can help you make sure your child is on the path to a healthy weight. 

Childhood Obesity Prevention
Overview
Most US children spend an average of 6 to 7 hours a day at school, which is a large part of their waking hours.1–3 Thus, schools are a priority setting for preventing ​c​hildhood obesity,4–7 a health condition that affects nearly 1 in 5 young people of school age (6 to 19 years) in the United States.8
A comprehensive approach is most effective at addressing childhood obesity in schools, especially for elementary and middle school students.9,10 Scientists know less about what school-based obesity prevention approaches are effective for teenagers.9,10 A comprehensive approach means addressing nutrition and physical activity in schools and involving parents, caregivers, and other community members (e.g., pediatricians, after-school program providers). This kind of approach aims to support the health and well-being of all students. It does not single out students according to their weight status. To avoid embarrassing or shaming students, schools should not emphasize physical appearances or reinforce negative stereotypes about obesity.11
The WSCC Model and Childhood Obesity PreventionSchools can apply the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model to guide their approach to preventing childhood obesity and supporting students with obesity. The WSCC model highlights how a child’s emotional, physical, and academic development requires multiple components, including:
Physical education and physical activity. Nutrition environment and services. School health services to support physical, psychological, and emotional health. Family and community engagement.

Addressing these areas can help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight and attitude about weight.

    • CDC’s School Health Guidelines present evidence-based guidelines and strategies for putting a comprehensive approach in place. Strong state and local wellness policies can demonstrate schools’ commitment to these guidelines and a comprehensive approach to support physical activity and healthy eating. Research has linked these kinds of policies with improvements in the nutrition of foods and beverages sold and served in schools12 and opportunities for physical activity.13

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    • School Health Guidelines
    • Parents for Healthy Schools
    • Local School Wellness Policy

Causes of Obesity
Consuming more energy from foods and beverages than the body uses for healthy functioning, growth, and physical activity can lead to extra weight gain over time.4   The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage children and adolescents to maintain calorie balance to support normal growth and development without promoting excess weight gain.5 Energy imbalance is a key factor behind the high rates of obesity seen in the United States and globally.6,7
Many factors contribute to childhood obesity, including:8-16
Genetics Metabolism—how your body changes food and oxygen into energy it can use. Community and neighborhood design and safety.

  • Short sleep duration.
  • Eating and physical activity behaviors.
  • Genetic factors are difficult to change. However, people and places can play a role in helping children achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Families, communities, schools, out-of-school programs, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, food and beverage companies, and entertainment industries all influence the dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents.7-9
    Changes in the environments where young people spend their time—like homes, schools, and community settings—can make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Schools can adopt policies and practices that help young people eat more fruits and vegetables, get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, and eat fewer foods and beverages that are high in added sugars or solid fats.8,9, 17, 18