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Health Indicator Report of Obesity Among Children and Adolescents

The number of overweight or obese children and adolescents is increasing and diseases previously thought to affect mainly adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, are now being diagnosed in children and adolescents. The social and psychological impacts of childhood obesity include social isolation, increased rate of suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, increased rate of anxiety disorders and depression, and increased likelihood of being bullied.


Childhood obesity is determined by calculating BMI using the height, weight, age, and sex of the child. The child is considered to be obese if the resulting BMI is greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for age and sex based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Growth Charts (2 to 20 years: Boys Body Mass index-for-age percentiles and 2 to 20 years: Girls Body Mass index-for-age percentiles).   [[br]] [[br]] In 2018 height and weight measurements were collected from 3,944 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade students in 69 randomly selected public elementary schools in Utah.

Data Source

Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Health Promotion, Healthy Living Through Environment, Policy and Improved Clinical Care Program Height/Weight Measurement

Data Interpretation Issues

Three sources of data are used for this indicator. First, third, and fifth grade students from randomly selected public elementary schools throughout the state were weighed and measured. Adolescent data is from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Prevention Needs Assessment. Height and weight for these surveys are self-reported.


Body mass index (BMI) is widely used to determine obesity and overweight because it is inexpensive, reproducible, and convenient. BMI is calculated using the individual's height, weight, age, and sex.^1^ For individuals aged 2 to 20, overweight and obesity is determined by calculating the individual's BMI and comparing it to age and sex standardized growth charts distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children and adolescents are considered obese if their BMI is greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for BMI by age and sex based on the 2000 CDC Growth Charts.^2^[[br]] [[br]] ---- 1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ''The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity''. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Office of the Surgeon General; [2001]. Available from: U.S. GPO, Washington.[[br]] 2. Tools for calculating body mass index (BMI). Nutrition & physical activity. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from []


Number of individuals surveyed or measured who are obese (BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for BMI by age and sex based on CDC Growth Charts).^1^[[br]] [[br]] ---- 1. Tools for calculating body mass index (BMI). Nutrition & physical activity. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from []


Total number of youth surveyed or measured for height and weight.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce the proportion of children and adolescents who are considered obese

U.S. Target: Not applicable, see subobjectives in this category

Other Objectives

{{style color:#003366 Healthy People Objective NWS-10:}}[[br]] Reduce the proportion of children and adolescents who are considered obese[[br]] *{{style color:#003366 NWS-10.2:}} Children aged 6 to 11 years **'''U.S. Target:''' 15.7 percent **'''State Target:''' 10.0 percent[[br]] *{{style color:#003366 NWS-10.3:}} Adolescents aged 12 to 19 years **'''U.S. Target:''' 16.1 percent **'''Utah Target:''' 10.0 percent

How Are We Doing?

The percentage of obese children in Utah increased dramatically in the first decade of the century. From 1994 to 2010 the number of obese third grade boys increased by 97 percent, from 6.0 percent in 1994 to 11.8 percent in 2010. The percentage of obese third grade girls increased by 40 percent over the same time period. In 2010, 8.4 percent of third grade girls were obese compared to 6.0 percent in 1994. Childhood obesity in Utah seems to have leveled off since 2010. In 2018, 12.1% of third grade boys and 8.3% of girls were obese. Among adolescents in 2019, 9.3 percent of Utah public high school students were obese; boys were over twice as likely as girls to be obese (13.2% compared to 6.3%). The adolescent obesity rate nationally is considerably higher than Utah's rate, where 14.8% of U.S. adolescents were obese in 2017. The obesity rate in 2019 among adolescents in grades 8, 10, and 12 was lower in Summit County (4.7%, Tri-County (4.7%), and Utah County (8.6%) than the state rate (9.8%). The obesity rate among adolescents in grades 8, 10, and 12 was higher in Weber-Morgan (12.1%) and Tooele (12.2%) than the state rate. Adolescent obesity rates varied dramatically by race and ethnicity. According to the 2017 Prevention Needs Assessment data Pacific Islanders (29.1%), Native Americans (15.9%), Blacks (15.2%), and Hispanics (13.9%) in grades 8, 10, and 12 all had higher rates of obesity than the state rate (9.6%). White adolescents (8.1%) had lower rates than the state rate. It is likely that these data, based on self-reported height and weight, underrepresent the prevalence of overweight or obesity among high school students.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

In the U.S. there has been more than a 200 percent increase during the past 38 years in the number of obese children aged 2 to 19 years (5.2% in 1971-74 and 16.9% in 2011-12).^1^ An increase has also been observed in Utah between 1994 and 2010 with the number of overweight third grade boys and girls increasing by 97 percent and 40 percent, respectively. In 2019, 15.5 percent of public high school students in the U.S. In contract, 9.7 percent of Utah public high school students were obese in 2019.[[br]] [[br]] ---- 1. National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ''Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents: United States, 1963-1965 Through 2011-2012''. Retrieved on December 14, 2015, []

What Is Being Done?

The Healthy Living through Environment, Policy, and Improved Clinical Care Program (EPICC) was established through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). EPICC focuses on Environmental Approaches that Promote Health, specifically promoting policies around healthy eating and active living. EPICC works: In Schools:[[br]] 1) Schools are encouraged to adopt the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program. This framework encourages students to be physically active for 60 minutes a day through school, home and community activities.[[br]] 2) Height and weight trends are being tracked in a sample of elementary students to monitor Utah students.[[br]] 3) Action for Healthy Kids brings partners together to improve nutrition and physical activity environments in Utah's schools by implementing the school-based state plan strategies, working with local school boards to improve or develop policies for nutritious foods in schools. This includes recommendations for healthy vending options. In Communities:[[br]] 1) Local health departments (LHDs) receive federal funding to partner with schools, worksites, and other community based organizations to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables through food service guidelines, farmers markets, and retail stores. LHDs also work with cities within their jurisdictions to create a built environment that encourages physical activity. In Healthcare:[[br]] 1) EPICC works with health care systems to establish community clinical linkages to support individuals at risk for or diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension to engage in lifestyle change programs such as chronic disease self-management and diabetes prevention programs. In Childcare:[[br]] 1) Ten local health departments statewide have implemented the TOP Star program, which aims to improve the nutrition, physical activity, and breastfeeding environments and achieve best practice in child care centers and homes.[[br]] 2) EPICC works with state and local partners through the Childcare Obesity Prevention workgroup to implement policy and systems changes in early care and education across agencies statewide.

Evidence-based Practices

The EPICC program promotes evidence based practices collected by the Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT). Center TRT bridges the gap between research and practice and supports the efforts of public health practitioners working in nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention by:[[br]] *Reviewing evidence of public health impact and disseminating population-level interventions; *Designing and providing practice-relevant training both in-person and web-based; *Addressing social determinants of health and health equity through training and translation efforts; and, *Providing guidance on evaluating policies and programs aimed at impacting healthy eating and physical activity.[[br]] [[br]] Appropriate evidence based interventions can be found at [].

Available Services

Action for Healthy Kids Program - for more information, visit [] The Utah Department of Health's obesity website located at []

Health Program Information

Information for school wellness policies is available at Action for Health Kids, [].[[br]] Information specifically for Utah is available at [].

Page Content Updated On 10/27/2020, Published on 01/05/2021
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 23 May 2024 3:50:53 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 5 Jan 2021 16:38:40 MST