DefinitionPercent of high school students who were obese (greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for body mass index, by age and sex)
NumeratorNumber of high school students whose body mass index was greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for Body Mass Index (BMI) for their age and gender
DenominatorTotal number of high school students surveyed
Data Interpretation IssuesYouth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and New Jersey Student Health Survey (NJSHS) BMI data should be used with caution since individual height and weight are self-reported. People tend to underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, resulting in a lower BMI compared to if the individual was actually weighed and measured.
Why Is This Important?Obesity has tripled among adolescents in the past 30 years. Obese youth are more likely to have prediabetes and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. [http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm ^1^]
Other Objectives'''Revised Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective NF-1b''': Reduce the proportion of high school students in grades 9-12 who are obese to 7.8% for the total population, 6.5% among Whites, 8.4% among Blacks, 13.1% among Hispanics, and 2.3% among Asians.
'''Original Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective NF-1b''': Prevent an increase in the proportion of high school students in grades 9-12 who are obese. Targets are 10.3% for the total population, 8.2% among Whites, 16.5% among Blacks, and 14.4% among Hispanics.
How Are We Doing?In 2015 and 2017, the New Jersey Student Health Survey was unable to obtain the number of student responses needed to reach the 60% response rate required by the CDC to be able to weight the data to be representative of the New Jersey high school student population. Data from 2013 remains the most recently available.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The proportion of New Jersey high school students who are obese is consistently lower than that of the nation as a whole.
What Is Being Done?The NJ Department of Health's Office of Nutrition and Fitness works to reduce obesity in New Jersey by providing programs, information and resources designed to reach New Jerseyans, particularly those at risk of obesity and related health outcomes.
One initiative, ShapingNJ, works in the school setting to help schools serve healthy meals and keep their students active. ShapingNJ's community-focused work impacts high school students as it works to ensure that healthy foods are available in all communities, that there are opportunities to be active in the community, and that those opportunities are safe. One such activity links communities and schools by developing joint use agreements to open up school gyms, tracks, and recreation facilities to community members.
Another initiative, HealthCorps, addresses students' mind, body, and spirit through an innovative health curriculum that gives teens purpose in an effort to help stem the child obesity crisis. Through HealthCorps' in-school health mentoring program, HealthCorps reaches students, faculty, parents and school staff, as well as community residents with whom they connect through community outreach and public events.
New Jersey has implemented the following legislative actions and policies to address obesity in schools:
- NJ has nutritional standards for competitive foods sold a la carte, in vending machines, in school stores, or in school bake sales.
- NJ has nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks that are stricter than current USDA requirements.
- NJ has core curriculum standards for health and physical education that requires that students have a minimum of 150 minutes of health, physical education (PE), and safety education per week in grades 1 through 12.