Childhood obesity and overweight have been linked to a host of health, behavioral, and psychological problems. They include: chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and asthma (1-4), developmental problems such as low self-esteem, becoming victims or perpetrators of bullying or other disruptive behaviors, and performing poorly academically (5-13). Children who are obese or overweight are also more likely to be obese or overweight as adults and therefore have high risk for associated adult health problems such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers (14-18). To inform policy and community efforts to address childhood obesity and overweight, it is critically important to improve understanding of childhood obesity and overweight and associated risk factors.
* About 20% of Asian American children were overweight. Prevalence of overweight was higher among males (24.9%) than females (15.2%).
* Among Asian ethnic groups, Filipinos (29.5%) and Southeast Asians (27.3%) had the highest prevalence of overweight children, while Chinese (11.8%) had the lowest. Prevalence of overweight was even higher among foreign-born Filipino children (39.6%). Among the U.S.-born, Southeast Asian children had the highest prevalence (29.6%) of overweight, followed by Filipino children (26.2%).
* Prevalence of overweight was higher among pre-teens ages 9-12 (26.2%) than younger children ages 2-8 (16.4%) and adolescents ages 13-19 (21%).
* Prevalence of overweight was higher among U.S.-born Asian American children who did not have a parent or guardian with a 4-year college degree (25.7%) than those who did (16.6%).
* While the prevalence of overweight was lower for Asian American children than for other racial groups, current BMI cut points defining obesity and overweight may not be appropriate for Asian Americans and may underestimate their associated health risks. Future research should re-examine and better define BMI categories for obesity and overweight for Asian American children.