Declining Trends and Widening Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Prevalence Among Massachusetts Public School Districts, 2009-2014
Health Statistics and Geography Lab, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center
Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Maternal and Child Health | Preventive Medicine | Public Health
OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the overall and sociodemographic disparities in trends in prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Massachusetts public school districts between 2009 and 2014.
METHODS: In 2009, Massachusetts mandated annual screening of body mass index for students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10. This was part of the statewide Mass in Motion prevention programs. We assessed trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between 2009 and 2014 by district, gender, grade, and district income.
RESULTS: From 2009 to 2014, prevalence decreased 3.0 percentage points (from 34.3% to 31.3%) statewide. The 2014 district-level rates ranged from 13.9% to 54.5% (median = 31.2%). When stratified by grade, the decreasing trends were significant only for grades 1 and 4. Although rates of districts with a median household income greater than $37 000 improved notably, rates of the poorest remain unchanged and were approximately 40%.
CONCLUSIONS: Although overall prevalence began to decrease, the geographic and socioeconomic disparities in childhood obesity are widening and remain a public health challenge in Massachusetts. Special efforts should be made to address the needs of socioeconomically disadvantaged districts and to narrow the disparities in childhood obesity. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 13, 2015: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302807).
Rights and Permissions
Citation: Li W, Buszkiewicz JH, Leibowitz RB, Gapinski MA, Nasuti LJ, Land TG. Declining Trends and Widening Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Prevalence Among Massachusetts Public School Districts, 2009-2014. Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug 13:e1-e7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26270317. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302807 Link to article on publisher's website
Li, Wenjun; Buszkiewicz, James H.; Leibowitz, Robert B.; Gapinski, Mary Ann; Nasuti, Laura J.; and Land, Thomas G., "Declining Trends and Widening Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Prevalence Among Massachusetts Public School Districts, 2009-2014" (2015). Preventive and Behavioral Medicine Publications and Presentations. 344.