Pediatric Health in Profile

By Steve Barrett
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Physicians and medical researchers face tremendous challenges in the area of pediatrics. Rising rates of obesity and widespread drug use among children can seem like intractable problems. Here are some of the troubling statistics.

State of the States

Obesity among Americans 10 to 17 years old exceeds 15% in the District of Columbia and the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

Once perceived almost exclusively as an adult condition, obesity is affecting increasing percentages of Americans ages 2 to 19. The illustration above shows how obesity rates in that age range rose in recent years.

Counting the Cost

Childhood obesity is linked to enormous healthcare costs.

  • $194: The increased cost of an outpatient visit for a child who is obese for two straight years, compared with that of a child of normal weight
  • $3,743: The average yearly cost for health care for an obese child who is covered by private insurance, compared with $1,108 for all children covered by private insurance
  • $14.1 billion: Annual additional cost of prescription drugs and emergency room and outpatient visits for overweight and obese children

A Ray of Hope?

From 2012 through 2016, misuse of opioids among high school seniors continued a downward trend, falling from 8.7% to 4.8%.

Compounding the Problem

A study published in Pediatrics revealed that high school students who used synthetic cannabinoids were more likely to have used marijuana before age 13 and also to have used marijuana at least once in the preceding 30 days than those who had used only marijuana.