The Obesity Epidemic and United States Students
What is the problem?
The 2017 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that among U.S. high school students:
- 14.8% had obesity (students who were > 95th percentile for body mass index, based on sex- and age-specific reference data from the 2000 CDC growth charts).
- 15.6% were overweight (students who were >= 85th percentile but <95th percentile for body mass index, based on sex- and age-specific reference data from the 2000 CDC growth charts).
Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors
- 5.6% did not eat fruit or drink 100% fruit juices during the 7 days before the survey.
- 7.2% did not eat vegetables during the 7 days before the survey. (1)
- 7.1% drank a can, bottle, or glass of soda or pop three or more times per day during the 7 days before the survey. (2)
- 26.7% did not drink milk during the 7 days before the survey.
- 14.1% did not eat breakfast during the 7 days before the survey.
- 15.4% were not physically active for a total of at least 60 minutes on at least 1 day during the 7 days before the survey. (3)
- 48.3% did not go to physical education (PE) classes on 1 or more days in an average week when they were in school.
- 20.7% watched television 3 or more hours per day on an average school day.
- 43% played video or computer games or used a computer for 3 or more hours per day on an average school day. (4)
- 45.7% did not play on at least one sports team counting any teams run by their school or community groups during the 12 months before the survey.
What are the solutions?
- Better health education
- More physical education and physical activity programs
- Healthier school environments
- Better nutrition services
What are the solutions?
The School Health Policies and Practices Study 2014 indicates that among U.S. high schools:
- 88% required students to receive instruction on health topics as part of a specific course.
- 86% required students to receive instruction on nutrition and dietary behavior.
- 80% required students to receive instruction on physical activity.
Physical Education (PE) and Physical Activity
- 96% required students to take PE; among these schools 51% did not allow students to be exempted from taking a required PE course for certain reasons. (5)
- 4% required daily PE or its equivalent for students in all grades in the school for the entire year.
- 48% offered opportunities for students to participate in intramural activities or physical activity clubs.
- In 12%, students could purchase fruits or vegetables. (6)
- In 58%, students could not purchase soda pop or fruit drinks that are not 100% juice. (6)
- In 73%, students could not purchase chocolate candy. (6)
- 77% did not allow students to purchase foods or beverages high in fat, sodium, or added sugars during school lunch periods.
- 87% offered a choice between 2 or more different fruits or types of 100% fruit juice each day for lunch.
- 72% did not sell any fried foods as part of school lunch.
- 84% offered lettuce, vegetable, or bean salads a la carte to students during a typical week.
- Had sexual intercourse with at least one person, during the 3 months before the survey.
- Among students who were currently sexually active.
- Not counting tests done if they donated blood.
- Used a needle to inject any illegal drug into their body, one or more times during their life.