Overweight Teen Statistics

Overweight teen statistics show teenagers are becoming increasingly overweight. This article covers race and gender differences in overweight teens, types of eating disorder associated with teen weight issues, and health problems created by being overweight.


One of the more pressing problems that is gaining in prominence right now is that of overweight teens. Teenagers are becoming increasingly overweight, and this can be a problem that affects national health as well as individual health.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), among those in the age group 12 - 19, the incidence of overweight teens increased from 11 percent to 17 percent. This is an indication that, even with a social emphasis on being thin, overweight teens are still in abundance.

Race and gender differences in overweight teens

Interestingly enough, race differences have been seen in overweight teens. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that for boys, overweight teens were more likely to come from the Mexican-American group as opposed to black or white boys. For girls, the largest difference was that black girls were more likely to be overweight than white girls.

This is an interesting statistic. It implies that for some groups, it may be more socially acceptable to be overweight. Additionally, it might mean that educational efforts about the dangers of being overweight may need to target certain groups.

According to the NHANES, girls increased in being overweight from 13.7 percent to 16.0 percent. However, girls have a lower incidence of overweight teens than their male counterparts. Boys also increased in overweight teens from 14.0 percent to 18.2 percent. This is a problem that continues to grow.

Eating disorders

Many people think of eating disorders merely as something that results in people eating too little. However, there are eating disorders that encourage teenagers to overeat. Sometimes, the eating disorder combines the two through bingeing and purging (eating a lot and then throwing it up or taking a laxative).

Eating disorders are most common among women. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 90 percent of the more than 8 million people with eating disorders in the United States are women. This number includes teenagers, and translates to teenage girls as well.

Health problems and being overweight

Many of the health problems that are gaining in prevalence in the United States are a result of being overweight. Most people with Type II Diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, are overweight. This means that overweight teens are more likely to develop diabetes.

Another problem associated with being overweight is heart disease. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are also problems associated with teen obesity. The CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) point out that hear disease is the leading cause of death for all people in the U.S., and that stroke is the third leading cause. Both of these agencies identify weight as a factor.

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