According to a new projection published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Nearly three in five children in the U.S. today are destined to be obese by the time they reach their 35th birthday.
Computer modelling–using current national data–estimated that around 57% of children aged two to 19 in the U.S. in 2016 will be obese by 35.
According to the Harvard study, the kids who are heading towards obesity are not necessarily obese right now…most of them are not. The study projects that only half of these kids will be obese when they’re 20, while the other half will BECOME obese during their 20s and 30s.
“It seems the excess weight gained in childhood puts kids on a trajectory that persists,” Says Zachary Ward, lead author of the study. He says that “children with obesity now could benefit from early intervention,” such as a better diet and more physical activity.
The estimate comes at a time when obesity rates in that country have stabilized among children aged six to 11 and declined for children aged two to five. About 6% of U.S. children (4.6 million) already have severe obesity. The team also suggests that severely obese children are at especially high risk for adult obesity.
The new study comes as an attempt to predict how a child’s weight could predict their risk of obesity. It used height and weight data from a sample of 41,567 children and adults.
“In some ways, this is a surprising finding just because of the sheer magnitude of the problem,” Ward said. “In other ways, it’s not surprising when you look at how trends in weight gain and obesity have been going over the past 40 years. In some parts of the country, we’re already approaching that level of obesity.”