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Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

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Teen Obesity report link Adult Obesity report link Physical Activity report link

Health professionals recognize the benefits associated with a healthy eating plan based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Proper nutrition promotes the optimal growth and development of children. A healthy diet also helps reduce the risks for many health conditions.1

Regular physical activity helps improve a person's overall health and fitness, and reduces the risk for many chronic diseases.2 Nationally in 2015, only 20% of adults reported that they participated in enough aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises to meet guidelines3 and about half of high schools students were physically active at least one hour per day on five or more days per week4.

A person whose weight is higher than what is considered as a normal weight adjusted for height is described as being overweight or having obesity.5 Body Mass Index (BMI) is the weight-to-height ratio most commonly used to estimate and screen for overweight and obesity. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.
2. Physical Activity, CDC. 1/31/18.
3. BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, CDC, 2/16/18.
4. Youth Online, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, CDC, 2/16/18.
5. Overweight and Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. July 2017.
Staying in control of your weight contributes to good health now and as you age. Individuals who are at a healthy weight are less likely to:
  • Develop chronic disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and dyslipidemia.
  • Develop chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.
  • Experience complications during pregnancy.
  • Die at an earlier age.6


6. Nutrition and Weight Status Overview. Healthy People 2020. 2/9/18.
During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults7 and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years8 are obese.


7. Adult Obesity Facts. 8/29/17.
8. Childhood Obesity Facts. 4/10/17.
Nutrition, physical activity, and weight status are tracked at the national and state levels primarily through two surveys:

National information is also tracked through the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site (https://nj.gov/health/shad). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 23 March 2019 3:30:57 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: https://nj.gov/health/shad ".

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