Childhood Obesity Rates Remain High in PA

Recently released Pennsylvania data on escalating childhood obesity rates show that we’re not making great headway to reverse this trend.

In 25 Pennsylvania counties, 20 percent or more of children in seventh through 12th grade are in the 95th percentile or greater based on their BMI (obese category).

According to the report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), obesity is highest in Mifflin (30.31 percent), Huntingdon (25.58 percent) and Forest (24.62 percent) counties for the seventh through 12th grades.

Similar data was collected in Kindergarten through sixth grade. However, the obesity rates were lower in younger children than in older teens. For example, in Mifflin County, while 30.31 percent of children in seventh through 12th grade fall into the 95th BMI percentile, only 17.98 percent of children in Kindergarten through sixth grade fall into this percentile.

The data was collected by nurses in 500 schools across the commonwealth during the 2007-2008 school year and then aggregated into the following BMI classifications:

  • BMI < 5th Percentile: At risk for underweight
  • BMI 5th to 85th Percentile: Healthy weight
  • BMI > 85th to < 95th Percentile: Overweight (formerly At-Risk-for-Overweight)
  • BMI > or = to 95th Percentile: Obese (formerly Overweight)

For strategies to help you address childhood obesity in your practice, consider reading the 2010 issue of Counter Details, “Pediatric Obesity Update 2010.”