America's Kids Getting Rounder and Rounder

November 6, 2006

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Abdominal obesity in America's children has increased by more than 60% since 1988 through 1994, apparently thanks to supersized fast food, TV, and video games, according to researchers here.

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Nov. 6 -- Abdominal obesity in America's children has increased by more than 60% since 1988 through 1994, apparently thanks to supersized fast food, TV, and video games, according to researchers here.

So it appeared from comparative National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES) data, reported Stephen Cook, M.D., of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center in the Nov. 5 issue of Pediatrics.

Using waist circumference as a surrogate marker, they found that the most recent data, taken in 2003-2004, showed the prevalence of abdominal obesity had increased among boys by 65.4% (from 10.5% to 17.4%) and among girls by 69.4% (from 10.5% to 17.8%) since the 1988-1994 NHANES survey. Both increases were statistically significant at P

Treating the last three surveys as one and comparing them to the earlier NHANES study, Dr. Cook and colleagues found:

  • The unadjusted mean waist circumference increased from 50.7 to 51.9 cm for boys ages two through five, from 61.9 to 64.5 cm for those ages six through 11 years, 76.8 to 79.8 cm for those ages 12 through 17, and 81.3 to 86.6 cm for those ages 18 and 19 years.
  • For the same age groups, the unadjusted mean waist circumference for girls increased from 51.0, 61.7, 75.0, and 77.7 cm to 51.8, 64.7, 78.9, and 83.9 cm, respectively.
  • The relative change in waist-to-height ratio was similar to that of waist circumference in both sexes and in all age group.

The P value was 0.0001 for linear trends and was