Annual statistics compilation forecasts increasing diversity
The number of children living in the United States declined slightly, as did the percentage of the U.S. population who are children, according to the federal government's annual statistical report on the well-being of the nation's children and youth. The percentage of children living in the United States who are Asian, non-Hispanic increased, as did the percentage of children who are of two or more races, and the percentage of children who are Hispanic. The percentages of children who are white, non-Hispanic, and black, non-Hispanic declined.
By 2050, about half of the American population ages under 17 is projected to be composed of children who are Hispanic, Asian, or of two or more races, the report stated. The report projected that, among children under age 17, 36 percent will be Hispanic (up from 24 percent in 2012); 6 percent will be Asian (up from 5 percent in 2012); and 7 percent will be of two or more races (up from 4 percent in 2012).
These and other findings are described in America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013. The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which includes participants from 22 federal agencies as well as partners in several private research organizations. The forum fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families.
The report, the 16th in an ongoing series, presents key indicators of children's wellbeing in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.
Among the findings in this year's report:
The percentage of youth ages 12–17 who had a major depressive episode was unchanged in the previous year (8.2 percent in 2010 and 2011). However, this figure was lower than the 2004 high of 9 percent. The report notes that adolescent depression can affect school and work performance, impair peer and family relationships, and exacerbate other health conditions, such as asthma and obesity.
The Healthy Eating Index score, a measure of overall dietary quality did not differ significantly from recent years. For children ages 2–17, total scores ranged between 47 and 50 percent in 2003–2004, 2005–2006, and 2007–2008. The report noted that the diet quality of children and adolescents fell considerably short of recommendations.
"Poor eating patterns can lead to childhood obesity and contribute to chronic diseases starting in childhood, such as type 2 diabetes, and those that emerge throughout the life cycle, such as cardiovascular disease," the report stated.
The report added that the diet quality of children and adolescents would be improved by an increase in vegetables, especially dark greens and beans, replacing refined grains with whole grains, substituting seafood for some meat and poultry, and decreasing the intake of sodium, solid fats, and added sugars.
This year's report includes a special feature on the kindergarten year, described as a pivotal marker for children's development. Three and a half million children entered kindergarten for the first time in the fall of 2010.
On average, girls received higher scores than boys on kindergarten entry assessments in reading and approaches to learning. There were no differences between girls and boys in mathematics and science.
The special feature was based on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–2011 (ECLS-K:2011), conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report noted that the ECLS-K:2011 will follow the children's progress through the fifth grade, providing information on how the children's development may be shaped by such factors as child care, home educational environment, teachers' instructional practices, and class size.