Abstract for:Modeling Obesity Trends among U.S. Children: A Preliminary Estimation of Energy Imbalance Gap

Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem and a major cause of morbidity among children in the United States. At its core, obesity results from the imbalance of energy intake and energy expenditure, i.e., energy imbalance gap (EIG). The EIG captures the average daily difference between energy intake and expenditure. Understanding the dynamics of EIG can help us explain the magnitude of changes required in energy intake and physical activity to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. In this paper, we use a novel method in system dynamics and quantify the dynamics of EIG over time for US children age 7 and above. Overall, children whose BMI percentile are higher than 85 percent (i.e., overweight, obese, and severely obese children) showed higher estimated EIG compared to underweight or normal weight children. Over time, children across all weight groups showed an increase in their estimated EIG as they aged from 7 to 9 years old and then a drop until age 13 which is followed by a major increase until age 17.