A new study, from JAMA Pediatrics, confirms that obesity rates among adolescents and teens are rising.

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According to the research study, researchers found that obesity in young people ages 2 to 19 increased from 17.7% in 2011-12 to 21.5% from 2017-2020. There was a significant spike among the two to five-years-old age group and the 12-19-year-old age group. However, obesity rates for the six-to-11-year-old age group did not show significant spikes.


“With school closures, cancellation of sports and activities, and less play dates, kids and parents alike have understandably become less active, spending more time in the home,” Amanda Stovall, M.D., an Illinois-based pediatrician commented in an interview with in regards to the study. “Even walking around school and grocery shopping can provide healthy activity, and people have not been able to do these daily activities.”

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Dr. Stovall also said that excess screen time soared during the pandemic and it is also a contributing factor to the obesity rates rising.

“The more time they spend on a tablet, watching TV, on a phone, the less they are moving,” Dr. Stovall said.

Delving further into the study, researchers found that, when race and ethnicity were added into the mix, the higher obesity rates were even starker.

When comparing 2011-12 to 2017-2020, obesity increased from:

  • 21.8% to 27% in Mexican Americans
  • 19.5% to 23.8% in non-Hispanic Blacks
  • 15% to 18.4% in non-Hispanic whites

“Children raised in lower-income communities have much less access to fresh food,” Dr. Dyan Hes of Gramercy Pediatrics commented in the same interview. “These neighborhoods are often called food deserts. In these neighborhoods, you may find a fast-food restaurant but no supermarket.”

Dr. Stovall added to Dr. Gramercy’s comment,”It is important to realize the complexity between what is going on in the home and in the community and how the child is doing, physically and emotionally.”

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Just what can be done to turn these statistics around? Well, here are a few tips from the experts to help turn things around in a body-positive way!

  • Get moving in a healthy way as a family.
  • Emphasize Strength Over Appearance, focus on what the body can do instead of how it looks.
  • Avoid using food as a part of your reward system.
  • Eat together.
  • Be patient with yourself and encourage your child to do so too!

Make sure to tell your children that weight loss is a journey. It will not going happen over night. Sustaining a healthy weight for life should be the goal not just a quick fix.

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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