NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 25, 2006

More U.S. children are born underweight and become obese, but fewer high school seniors smoke, according to the annual "America's Children in Brief:  Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2006."

The report, compiled annually since 1997 by a number of federal agencies, examined the health and behavior of the 73.3 million U.S. children younger than age 18.

According to researchers:

  • The percentage of children between ages six and 17 who were overweight increased to 18 percent in 2004 from 17 percent in 2002;  - 25 percent of non-Hispanic black girls were overweight in 2004, compared to 16 percent of white girls.
  • The birthrate for girls ages 15 to 17 decreased to 22.1 births per 1,000 girls in 2004 from 22.4 per 1,000 in 2003, and the birthrate for non-Hispanic black girls in that age group decreased to 37 births per 1,000 girls in 2004 from 86 per 1,000 in 1991.


  • The percentage of children ages four to 11 exposed to secondhand smoke decreased to 59 percent in 2004 from 88 percent in the ten years between 1994 and 2004.
  • The percentage of high school seniors who reported smoking cigarettes daily decreased to 14 percent in 2005 from 16 percent in 2004.
  • The rate of infants who weigh 5.8 pounds or less at birth increased to 8.1 percent in 2004 from 7.9 percent in 2003;  - 89 percent of children had health insurance in 2004, and 82 percent of households reported that their children had "very good or excellent" health.

Source: "America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006," Department of Health and Human Services, July 14, 2006.

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