(HealthDay News) — From 1999, all classes of obesity have increased in children, although the rates in 2011 to 2012 were not significantly different from those in 2009–2010, according to a study published online April 7 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Joseph A. Skelton, MD, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. examined the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity over time. Data were assessed for a representative sample (26,690) of U.S. children, aged 2–19 years, from repeated cross-sections of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999–2012).

The researchers found that 17.3% of children in the United States were obese from 2011–2012. Overall, 5.9 and 2.1% of children met the criteria for class 2 and class 3 obesity, respectively. From 1999, all classes of obesity increased, although the rates in 2011–2012 were not significantly different from those in 2009–2010.

“Continuing research is needed to determine which, if any, public health interventions can be credited with this stability,” the authors write. “Unfortunately, there is an upward trend of more severe forms of obesity and further investigations into the causes of and solutions to this problem are needed.”

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