(HealthDay News) — About 17.5% of U.S. children aged 3–19 are obese, compared with 13% of Canadian children the same age, according to an August data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

For the report, American and Canadian epidemiologists and statisticians collaborated to create a comparison of childhood obesity in the two countries.

The investigators found that in the late 1970s, the United States and Canada had similar childhood obesity rates – roughly 5%. Both countries also experienced a steady increase in childhood obesity through the 1980s and 1990s, lead author Cynthia Ogden, PhD, an epidemiologist at the NCHS, told HealthDay. But for as-yet-unknown reasons, U.S. children experienced a greater increase. By 2004, 16.6% of U.S. children and teens were obese, compared with 12.4% of Canadian children.

Children in the United States and Canada aged 3–6 have similar obesity rates. But for children aged 7–12, the rates differ dramatically – 19.2% in the United States vs. 11.8% in Canada, according to the report.

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