Obesity Prevention

NJAAP Obesity Prevention Programs


Childhood obesity in the U.S. is at unprecedented levels. According to the 2013-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an estimated 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese and another 16% are overweight[1]. Since the 1970s, the percentage of children with obesity has more than tripled in the U.S.[2], with the increase in prevalence especially high among socioeconomically disadvantaged families. Recent estimates suggest that 1 in 5 children ages 6-19 is obese[3]. Across NJ as a whole, obesity is lower than the national average, with 10% of children ages 2-19 obese, while overweight is about the same, affecting 15% of children in NJ[4]


Children with obesity are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity can also have immediate and long-term impacts on social/emotional health. Children with obesity are bullied more and more likely to suffer from psychological and social problems like social isolation, lower self-esteem, and depression[5].

The New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics believes that every child deserves a quality breakfast, lunch and dinner each and every day and that all children should have daily access to varied physical activity programs – in child care centers, schools, after-school programs, and other community settings. NJAAP also believes that the Pediatric Medical Home stands in a unique position to educate children and families early about the life-long benefits of proper nutrition and healthy activity . The Chapter also encourages the implementation of evidence-based standards and policies by schools and communities for improving the nutrition and wellness of all children. To accomplish these objectives, the state must redouble its commitment to leadership, sustained resources, and funding for reducing childhood obesity rates and food insecurity. Efforts for achieving these goals should be concentrated within four core areas:

  • Access to Food: Increased support should be enacted to ensure families and others responsible for providing nutrition to children, have greater access – both in schools and in under-served communities – to foods that are nutrient-rich and low in added sugars and fat.
  • Physical Activity: A renewed emphasis on providing appropriate daily physical activity programs to all children that encourage, educate and promote the life-long benefits of personal fitness.
  • Research and Partnerships: Prevention strategies must be developed, tested, and subsequently implemented within the context of the Medical Home. This will require collaborating and building coalitions with professionals in the fields of:
    • Nutrition
    • Behavioral Health
    • Physical Therapy
    • Exercise Physiology

Additionally, partnerships must be established between communities, schools, and hospitals for counseling services, opportunities for physical activity, and strategic planning and reinforcement of best practices in obesity prevention and treatment.

  • Payment: Adequate healthcare coverage and payment for obesity prevention strategies, must focus on and include: – Nutrition consultations; – Nutrition and fitness counseling provided by the Medical Home.

Children with obesity are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

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[1] Fryar, C. D., Carroll, M. D., & Ogden, C. (2016). Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents Aged 2–19 Years: United States, 1963–1965 Through 2013–2014. Health E-Stats.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Lawman HG, Fryar CD, Kruszon-Moran D, Kit BK, Flegal KM, Trends in Obesity Prevalence Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 1988-1994 Through 2013-2014. JAMA, 2016. 315(21): p. 2292-2299.

[4] Childhood Overweight and Obesity Trends. National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 February 2014. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/childhood-obesity-trends-state-rates.aspx#2011 Accessed 20 July 2017.

[5] “Childhood Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 January 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm