Over the past four decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled.¹ Today, approximately 27% of American children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese.² The numbers are even higher in African American and Latino communities, where nearly 40% of children are overweight and obese.³ If these trends continue, today’s youth will be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Childhood obesity is linked to long-term health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart-disease, high blood pressure, joint problems, asthma, and cancer.¹ But more importantly, childhood obesity significantly impacts the quality of kids’ everyday lives. Obese children tend to miss more days of school,¹ have a shorter attention span in the classroom, perform lower on standardized tests, and exhibit more behavioral problems.4

Why is this happening?

Children in the Richmond region, as across the US, have a more sedentary lifestyle than their parents and grandparents. This multi-faceted problem is related to the increased use of technology and screen time, unsafe neighborhoods that deter outside play, decreased walking and biking, and the elimination of recess in many schools.

Children today also live in a vastly different food environment than generations before. Busy parents cook fewer home-made meals, fast food restaurants aggressively market empty calories to children, portion sizes have exploded, soda and sugar-sweetened beverages are ubiquitous, and highly-processed junk foods are cheaper and more accessible than fruits and vegetables.

These are big problems, but Fit4Kids is galvanizing the greater Richmond region to tackle them. Read through our website and discover the many exciting ways in which Fit4Kids is addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in our community.

¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Childhood Obesity Facts. (2017)
² The State of Obesity, Childhood Obesity Trends. (2016)
Asieba, I. O. (2016). Racial/Ethnic Trends in Childhood Obesity in the United StatesJournal of Childhood Obesity.
4 Carey, F. R., Singh, G. K., Brown, H. S., & Wilkinson, A.V. (2015) Educational outcomes associated with childhood obesity in the United States: cross-sectional results from the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health.


What is the childhood obesity rate in the Richmond region?

Fit4Kids and the Greater Richmond Coalition for Healthy Children are currently working to collect BMI data to more accurately access levels of childhood obesity in our region. For more details on this process, see Data Collection.

Did you know?

In Virginia, nearly 25 percent of middle school students describe themselves as slightly or very overweight.
Reference: The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, 2015 Virginia Youth Survey.

Nationally, vegetable consumption among children under the age of 12 has decreased since 2010.
Reference: Produce for Better Health Foundation, State of the Plate, 2015 Study on America’s Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. 

More than one third of U.S. children and adolescents ages 2-19 consumed fast food on a given day in 2011-2012, with non-Hispanic black children consuming the largest percentage of calories from fast food.
Reference: Vikraman, S., Fryar, C. D., & Ogden, C. L. (2015). Caloric intake from fast food among children and adolescents in the United States, 2011-2012. NCHS data brief, no. 213. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 

U.S. children’s exposure to televised food advertisements increased from 2008 to 2012, with the greatest increase in exposure occurring among African American children.
Reference: Fleming-Milici, F., & Harris, J. L. (2016). Television food advertising viewed by preschoolers, children and adolescents: contributors to differences in exposure for black and white youth in the United States. Pediatric Obesity.

In Virginia, more 25 percent of middle school children watch three or more hours of television on an average school day.
Reference: The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, 2015 Virginia Youth Survey.