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Why are one-third of our kids overweight? Some uncomfortable childhood obesity statistics

Nicole Villalpando

I just read this startling statistic from the American Academy of Pediatrics: 41.5 percent of teens ages 16-19 are overweight (85th percentile for body mass index), 20.5 percent are obese, (95 percentile for body mass index),  9.5 are obese type II (120 percent of the 95 percentile for body mass index) and 4.5 percent are obese type III (140 percent of the 95 percentile for body mass index).

For all ages, it’s 35.1 percent overweight, 18.5 percent obese, 6 percent obese type II, and 1.9 percent obese type III.

Those who are obese type II and type III have a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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Some researchers had thought America’s childhood obesity problem might be getting better, but this study, which used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999-2016, didn’t find that at all. The statistics continue to see a steady rise.

RELATED: Doctors be careful about how you talk to children about obesity

The Academy made these recommendations three years ago about what parents can do to help their children stay at a healthy weight:

• Buy fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, high-calorie snacks and sweets.

• If you want to have these foods for a special celebration, buy them shortly before the event, and remove them immediately afterward.

• Healthy foods and beverages (water, fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie snacks) should be readily available and in plain sight on the kitchen table or counter, or in the front of the shelf in the refrigerator.

• High-calorie foods should be less visible – wrapped in foil rather than clear wrap, and placed in the back of the fridge or pantry.

• Encourage children to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

The Academy also recommended that families participate in 60 minutes of physical activity a day, limit screen time, reduce the number of television sets in their home, and remove screens from bedrooms and kitchens. They also recommended 9 hours of sleep a day.

RELATED: Are your kids getting enough sleep?

RELATED: American Academy of Pediatrics removes two-hour screen limit policy

Last year, the Academy also recommended that parents avoid giving children younger than age 1 juice and limit the juice intake throughout childhood. 

Another study also found that kids gain weight during breaks from school. Keep that in mind this spring break.