Widening Disparities Seen in Youth Obesity

Despite improvements overall, increases in obesity and severe obesity seen for Black and Hispanic students in most recent years
Widening Disparities Seen in Youth Obesity
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WEDNESDAY, May 15, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- In the 2019 to 2020 school year, 20.9 percent of New York City elementary and middle school students had obesity, and 6.4 percent had severe obesity, according to a study published online May 15 in PLOS ONE.

Kira L. Argenio, M.P.H., from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among youth in New York City before the COVID-19 pandemic and examined time trends. The analysis included height and weight measurements of public school students (kindergarten through eighth grade; aged 5 to 15 years taken during school years 2011 to 2012 through 2019 to 2020; roughly 1.37 million unique students).

The researchers found that 20.9 and 6.4 percent had obesity and severe obesity, respectively, in 2019 to 2020. Overall, there were significant, consistent declines in prevalence from 2011-2012 to 2019-2020 (2.8 percent relative decrease in obesity and 0.2 percent in severe obesity). Increasing trends were seen among Black, Hispanic, and foreign-born students. Nearly all groups experienced significant increases in obesity and severe obesity from 2016-2017 to 2019-2020 (relative change, 3.5 and 6.7 percent, respectively, overall), with some of the largest increases in obesity seen among those already bearing the greatest burden, such as Black and Hispanic students and youth living in poverty.

"These findings highlight the need for greater implementation of equity-centered obesity prevention efforts," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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