JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Research shows Mississippi children have the 4th-highest rate of childhood obesity in the country. 

The data cited by stateofchildhoodobesity.org comes from the National Survey of Children’s Health. It shows that 23.1% of children aged 10-17 were obese from 2020-2021, the years with the latest data. In 2016, the rate in Mississippi was 26.2%, the highest in the country at the time. Among the top 10 states with the highest rate of childhood obesity currently, nine are in the South. 

Nationally, the rate of childhood obesity is at 17% overall. This rate fluctuates based on race. For instance, Asian children had the lowest rate of obesity nationally at 10.1%, followed by white children at 13%. Among American Indian/Alaska Native children, Hispanic children, and Black children, 20.5%, 22.4% and 22% are obese, respectively.

In 2020-2021, obesity rates nationally ranged from 9.2% among youth in the highest-income group to 24.7% among youth in the lowest-income group. This indicates that socioeconomic status influences obesity numbers among children.

Adults in the Magnolia State are affected even more by obesity. About two out of five, or 39.5%, are obese. Mississippi is tied with West Virginia for having the highest rate of obese adults. 

According to the CDC, obesity-related conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type two diabetes, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, and joint problems. It recommends children aged 6-17 perform 60 minutes of physical activity daily. It reports that only 24% of children meet this guideline throughout the week.

The agency reports that regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Obesity