Although national and state estimates of child obesity are available, data at these levels are insufficient to monitor effects of local obesity prevention initiatives. The purpose of this study was to examine regional changes in the prevalence of obesity due to statewide policies and programs among children in grades 4, 8, and 11 in Texas Health Services Regions (HSRs) between 2000-2002 and 2004-2005, and nine selected counties in 2004-2005. A cross-sectional, probability-based sample of 23,190 Texas students in grades 4, 8, and 11 were weighed and measured to obtain BMI. Obesity was >95th percentile for BMI by age/sex using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts. Child obesity prevalence significantly decreased between 2000-2002 and 2004-2005 for 4th grade students in the El Paso HSR (7.0%, P = 0.005). A leveling off in the prevalence of obesity was noted for all other regions for grades 4, 8, and 11. County-level data supported the statistically significant decreases noted in the El Paso region. The reduction of child obesity levels observed in the El Paso area is one of the few examples of effective programs and policies based on a population-wide survey: in this region, a local foundation funded extensive regional implementation of community programs for obesity prevention, including an evidence-based elementary school-based health promotion program, adult nutrition and physical activity programs, and a radio and television advertising campaign. Results emphasize the need for sustained school, community, and policy efforts, and that these efforts can result in decreases in child obesity at the population level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics