Skip Navigation

About the HHS Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative

Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future logoChildhood overweight is a serious health concern for children and adolescents in this country and around the world. Since 1980, obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2-5 and more than tripled among youth ages 6-11 and adolescents ages 12-19. Much of this increase in overweight is attributable to sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits. Recent data suggest that 12.5 million children ages 2-19 years or 17.1 percent are overweight. An additional 16.5 percent are considered at risk of becoming overweight.

Overweight children and adolescents may experience immediate consequences and be at increased risk for chronic health problems in adulthood, such as -

  • asthma
  • cardiovascular risks
  • diabetes
  • psychological effects of social stigmatization
  • sleep apnea

Parents, caregivers, schools, community leaders and other caring adults have the opportunity to shape children's eating and activity habits. HHS is collaborating with communities, businesses and other local leaders to reach these influential agents of change. The acting Surgeon General is visiting communities to highlight effective prevention programs.

The Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative was launched at the National Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Summit in November 2007. The HHS Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Council is overseeing the initiative and enhancing existing childhood overweight and obesity prevention programs.