S.O.S (Startling Obesity Statistics)

The “S.O.S.” signal Tom is “answering” above refers to one of the greatest threats to Earth Kids’ future and their healthy development: Childhood Obesity.

“Childhood obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Researchers predict that by 2010, nearly 50% of the
children in North America will be overweight or obese.”
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

On the pages that follow, we’ve gathered together additional alarming facts about this epidemic; it’s economic impact, how physical activity and youth programs have lost key funding and support, the role that media plays as well as key assumptions that support the idea that “active” child equals a “healthy” child.

As JOLLY BLAST is all about “change” we hope these statistics move you to get moving, take action in your own family and community, and to realize that outside ever door is a jolly-amazing “Sports Adventure” just waiting to happen.

Jolly first blinked to Earth to help change his homeworld, but what he quickly discovered was that “sports adventures” benefit everyone involved regardless of their planet of origin.

Now to the numbers:


General Information

  • The increase in childhood obesity represents an “unprecedented burden” on children’s health.
    (American Association of Pediatrics)
  • Recent reports have highlighted the severity of obesity in children by suggesting: “today’s generation of children will be the first for over a century for whom life expectancy falls.”
    (Sports Medicine: Hills et al., 200&)
  • Since the 1970s, obesity prevalence has:
    -  DOUBLED for preschool children aged 2-5 years
    -  TRIPLED for children aged 6-11 years
    -  DOUBLED for adolescents aged 12-19 years
    -  Similar trends exist in U.S. adults and adults internationally
    (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • The average American 12-year-old child today weighs 11.4 pounds more than a similar height twelve-year old child in 1973.
  • Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults. 
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
  • Obesity can limit a child's physical activity and affect his or her self-esteem, but what's more worrisome are the health risks associated with being too heavy: type 2 diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and other diseases and conditions. 
    (American Association of Pediatrics)
  • Fewer than 1 in 4 children get 20 minutes of vigorous activity every day.
    (National Association for Sport and Physical Education)
  • The recommended daily amount of activity for children is 60 minutes per day.  Compared to 30 minutes per day for adults.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention,     and US Surgeon General)
  • Nearly half of American youth, ages 12-21, are not regularly activ
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services: National Center for Health Statistics)
  • 9 out of 10 parents think their children are fit, when, according to studies and statistics, only one 1 of 3 are.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)

Economic Impact

  • From 1979 to 1981, the annual hospital costs related to obesity among children and adolescents were $35 million; from 1997 to 1999, these costs rose to $127 million. 
    (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 2004)

Physical Education & Sports Participation (or lack thereof)

  • Experts agree that increasing physical activity is the most important component of any program to combat childhood obesity, yet many schools are cutting back on PE programs.
    (Kid Fit Act – Proposed Legislation – Bill Summary: HR 3257)
  • 1 in 4 children do not attend any form of school P.E. 
    (NikeGO PE)
  • Between 1991 and 2003, enrollment of high school students in daily PE classes fell from 41.6% percent to 28.4% percent.
    (Kid Fit Act – Proposed Legislation – Bill Summary: HR 3257)
  • 36% of American school children get two or fewer days of physical education.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • In a typical physical education class, only 27% of actual physical education time is devoted to motor activity
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • Fewer than 10% of elementary schools meet the National Association for Sport and Physical Education's standard of students spending 150 minutes a week in gym class. 
    (Time Magazine, “Video Games That Keep Kids Fit” by Carolyn Sayre – Sept. 13,     2007)
  • Only one state — Illinois — requires physical education as a mandatory part of the school day, and studies have shown that only 47 % of middle/junior high schools require physical education.
    (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2000.)
  • 54% percent of students claim that their physical education class is very important to them.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • About 50% of all students report that physical education class time should be increased.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)

Findings Based on Race, Age & Sex

  • Among children of color, the Childhood Obesity rates are even higher: 4 in 10 Mexican American and African American youth ages 6 to 19 are considered overweight or at risk of being overweight.
    (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Girls become less active as they move through adolescence.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
  • However, girls who play sports have higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression.
    (Presidential Council on Physical Fitness and Sports)

Role of Advertising & Overall Media Influence

  • Researchers suggest that the childhood obesity epidemic is largely due to a decline in regular physical activity and a diet high in empty and fat-laden calories.
    (Kid Fit Act – Proposed Legislation – Bill Summary: HR 3257)
  • More than 40 studies on the role of media in the nation’s dramatically increasing rates of childhood obesity have concluded that children who spend the most time with media are more likely to be overweight.
    (Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • The typical American child sees about 40,000 ads a year on TV, and that the majority of ads targeted to kids are for candy, cereal, soda and fast food.
    (Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • The average child consumes at least 20 ounces of soda pop a day.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • Two-thirds (68%) of infants and toddlers spend more than 2 hours a day watching TV, videos, DVDs and computer screens.
    (Kaiser Family Foundation, Children’s Digital Media Centers, 2003)
  • The average U.S. child spends 20% of his/her waking time watching TV.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • American children (ages 9 – 13) spend 4.5 hours of leisure time each day in front of a screen. This includes watching television, video-tapes or DVDs; playing video games; using a computer; or browsing the Internet.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  • Television is the medium with which youth spend the most time — 2.5 hours each day.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  • 67% of American youth watch two or more hours per day.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  • 26% of American youth watch four or more hours of television per day.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  • Almost half (48%) of all families with children have all four of the latest media staples: TV, VCR, video game equipment and a computer.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  • The bedroom of the 21st century child is a multimedia environment. More than half (57%) have a TV in the bedroom; 39% have video game equipment; 30% have a VCR; 20% a computer and 11% Internet access.
    (US Dept. of Health & Human Services & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

The Positive Effects of Physical Activity

  • Youth who regularly participate in some sort of sports activity are much less likely to become obese or overweight.
    (National Alliance for Youth Sports)
  • Although sports participation is meant to be fun and competitive, the unintended result can aid in the prevention and reversal of child obesity.
    (National Alliance for Youth Sports)
  • Physical activity may also have a positive impact on cognitive ability and reductions in tobacco use, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
    (Kid Fit Act – Proposed Legislation – Bill Summary: HR 3257)
  • The two biggest reasons kids participate in sport and exercise are fun and socialization.
    (University of Michigan: Fitness & Youth)
  • Research shows that healthy children learn more effectively and achieve more academically.
    (Kid Fit Act – Proposed Legislation – Bill Summary: HR 3257)