What does this measure?
The share of children in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10 considered overweight according to the Body Mass Index. Children are considered overweight if their BMI is at or above the 85th percentile for their age and gender, and they are considered obese at or above the 95th percentile. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.
Why is this important?
Overweight children are at greater risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, breathing problems, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems. Overweight children and adolescents are also more likely to face social and psychological problems, such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem, and to be overweight as adults.
BMI-For-Age data is collected and reported annually part of the "Mass in Motion" initiative started in 2009 by the Massachusetts Department of Health in an effort to reduce the prevalence of overweight children across the state.
How is our county doing?
In 2017, 35% of Essex children were considered overweight. This was slightly higher than the state rate in 2017 and the same as 2011. Among individual school districts, Lawrence had the highest rate (46%) followed by Lynn and Salem (both at 43%). The lowest rates were in the Georgetown School District (15%) and the Hamilton-Wenham School District (18%).
How do we compare to similar counties?
In 2017, 28% of children in Middlesex, MA were considered overweight or obese, lower than Essex and a decrease from 31% in 2011. Figures for Lake, IL and Westchester, NY were not available.
Notes about the data
State and county figures are aggregated from school district level data and may not represent the total enrollment of students in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10, due to data suppression for confidentiality when low numbers of students are screened, or errors in data generation and reporting.