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Prevalence, Disparities, and Trends in Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Students in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, School District, 2006–2010

Preventing Chronic Disease
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Publication Date
DOI: 10.5888/pcd9.120118
  • Original Research
  • Medicine


Introduction Epidemic increases in obesity negatively affect the health of US children, individually and at the population level. Although surveillance of childhood obesity at the local level is challenging, height and weight data routinely collected by school districts are valuable and often underused public health resources. Methods We analyzed data from the School District of Philadelphia for 4 school years (2006–2007 through 2009–2010) to assess the prevalence of and trends in obesity and severe obesity among public school children. Results The prevalence of obesity decreased from 21.5% in 2006–2007 to 20.5% in 2009–2010, and the prevalence of severe obesity decreased from 8.5% to 7.9%. Both obesity and severe obesity were more common among students in grades 6 through 8 than among children in lower grades or among high school students. Hispanic boys and African American girls had the highest prevalence of obesity and severe obesity; Asian girls had much lower rates of obesity and severe obesity than any other group. Although obesity and severe obesity declined during the 4-year period in almost all demographic groups, the decreases were generally smaller in the groups with the highest prevalence, including high school students, Hispanic males, and African American females. Conclusion Although these data suggest that the epidemic of childhood obesity may have begun to recede in Philadelphia, unacceptably high rates of obesity and severe obesity continue to threaten the health and futures of many school children.

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