Obesity is defined as having excess body fat and body mass index (BMI) is a widely accepted screening tool to measure obesity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018). BMI is an individual’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of an individual’s height in meters (CDC, 2018). The BMI method is only moderately related to direct measures of body fatness but is the chosen method to measure body fat due to its low cost (CDC, 2018).
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that health professionals use BMI percentile when measuring individuals age 2 to 20 years CDC, 2018). A child or young adult’s BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than the 95th percentile is considered overweight and a BMI at or above the 95th percentile is considered obese (CDC, 2018).
The CDC (2018) reported that 1 in 5 school age children (6 – 19 years) had a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for individuals their age and sex, classifying them as obese. Causes of obesity include: genetics, metabolism, community and neighborhood design and safety, short sleep duration, eating and physical activity behaviors (CDC, 2018). Possible immediate effects of childhood obesity include: higher risk for other chronic conditions and diseases that influence physical health (asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and risk factors for heart disease), bullying and teasing, social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem (CDC, 2018). Possible long-term effects of childhood obesity include: increased likelihood of being obese as an adult, developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many types of cancers (CDC, 2018).
The CDC (2018) recommended that multicomponent school-based interventions that addressed nutrition and physical activity, involving parents, caregivers, and other community members were the most effective and should be implemented to combat childhood obesity. The CDC (2018) applied its The Whole School Whole Community Whole Child (WSCC) model to the schools it is partnered with. The WSCC model is student-centered and emphasizes the role of the community in supporting the school and the importance of evidence-based policies and practices (2018). Healthy schools promote: healthier nutrition options and education, physical activity programs and physical education, training on management of chronic conditions, instillation of life-long healthy habits and health literacy, and improved school health services and links to clinical and community resources (CDC, 2018).
A recent study published by a team of CDC researchers consisting of Kenney, Wintner, Lee, & Austin (2017) reported that slightly less than half of the 247 schools included in their survey offered any obesity prevention program. Only 6% reported using a preexisting program and 2% reported using a program with evidence for effectiveness (Kenney et al.,
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