The AFRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Challenge Area focuses on the societal challenge to end obesity among children, the number one nutrition-related problem in the United States.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey administered by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence rates for overweight and obesity in children and adolescents have tripled in the past 30 years. In 2007–2008 almost 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were obese. Low income children and adolescents are more likely to be obese than their higher income counterparts, but the relationship is not consistent across race and ethnicity groups. At the same time, the U.S. food supply contains an abundant amount of foods that are high in energy with appealing taste, but which are low in nutrient content. Food is an integral part of the process that leads to obesity and USDA has a unique responsibility for the food system in the U.S. The long-term outcome of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Challenge Area is to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents ages 2–19 years.