Obesity rates among young U.S. children were thought to be on the decline, but a new study published this week suggests that there’s instead been a significant rise in overweight children since 2013.
In 1999, roughly 29% of children ages 2 to 19 were overweight. By 2016, that figure had risen to 35%, according to the study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
The study looked at obesity rates among children ages 2-19 from 1999 to 2016 using data from the Center for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased dramatically among all age groups with one in every five children now characterized as obese.
Researchers involved with the study see its findings as proof that efforts to improve children’s health such as former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign hasn’t had an impact across the entire country, and that all kids need improved access to healthy food and physical activity.
The problem also isn’t uniquely American, the number of obese children under the age of five also increased globally during the same time period from 32 to 41 million, CNN reports.
Following the release of the study, researchers are calling for the federal government to form an interagency commission to address obesity and look for solutions.