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VERIFY: No, kids aren't 28 times more likely to die from obesity than guns

A viral post claims people focusing on firearm deaths are missing the mark. It argues the real threat to children is obesity. Is it true?

A viral posts going around social media claims people’s priorities are out of whack.

Why worry about children being attacked by firearms, it argues, when they are “28 times more likely to die from obesity than be murdered by a firearm.” 

Before we consider the question, we’re verifying if the claim is true.


Is it true that children are 28 times more likely to die from obesity than be murdered by firearms?


No, like many viral claims on the internet, this one is false and doesn't supply any sources for its data. And while publicly available data shows a high mortality rate in adults from obesity-related outcomes, the top causes of death in children do not include obesity. They do, however, include firearms.


A study by the University of Michigan showed that more than 20,000 children and teens died in the U.S. in 2016. 

The study sourced CDC data, which identified motor vehicle crashes as the number one cause of death for “U.S. Children & Adolescents.” While firearm deaths came in second, the study also included numbers for homicides, suicides and unintentional firearm deaths.

Obesity didn’t make the list. 

A separate CDC chart backs that up.

It identifies accidents, congenital malformations, assaults, cancer and intentional self-harm as the leading causes of death for children ages one to four and ages five to 14.

Additionally, the number listed in the CDC data for children that died from obesity doesn't match the claim, which stated it should be higher than deaths from firearms.

What they almost match are the CDC numbers about adult causes of death. 

The CDC shows nearly 640,000 deaths from heart disease and 80,000 from diabetes in 2016. Both are commonly related to obesity. 

FBI numbers on homicides in 2016 show 17,250 murders. That’s about 37 times lower. 

Put simply, obesity was not a leading cause for children’s deaths. However, it was a contributor in the top cause of death for adults.

The social media claim fails to give its source and does not match available data. It’s FALSE.

It’s important to note, obesity in children is a real concern. It may not be causing high rates of death in kids, but the CDC shows that childhood obesity has tripled since the ’70s with nearly one in five school-age children being considered obese.

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