Preparation needed as children enter schools already overweight

A study published in the current issue of The Journal of School Health finds that nearly one quarter of children, ages three to five years, were entering school in Chicago overweight. For the authors, this is an urgent problem reflecting the nutritional status and health influence of the children's home and community. The results signify a need for schools, in and outside the Chicago area, to develop protocol and procedures to support the physical and mental health of overweight and at risk of overweight children. "Cities that lack data on the weight status of their young children can use the data from Chicago… to guide their planning until local data are available," the authors explain.

The height, weight, and age of more than 1,500 boys and girls from Chicago's public and Catholic schools were reviewed for the study. Twenty-four percent of the children were defined as "overweight," or having a sex- and age-specific body mass index (BMI) that was higher than ninety-five percent of their peers. This is more than twice the national prevalence of overweight children and three times that of the Midwest region. Sixteen percent were "at risk of overweight," with a BMI between the eighty-fifth and ninety-fourth percentile. "These results indicate an urgent problem facing Chicago children, families, health providers, and schools," the authors state. "Ongoing monitoring of child weight status is warranted."

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This study is published in the March issue of the Journal of School Health. Media wishing to receive a PDF, please contact JournalNews@bos.blackwellpublishing.com

Journal of School Health is published ten times a year on behalf of the American School Health Association. It addresses practice, theory, and research related to the health and well-being of school-aged youth.

Maryann Mason is the associate director of the Child Health Data Lab and research executive director of the Center on Obesity Management and Prevention. She is also an assistant research professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Dr. Mason is available for media questions and interviews.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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