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Health Indicator Report of Obesity among High School Students in Grades 9 to 12

Obesity has tripled among adolescents in the past 30 years. Obese youth are more likely to have prediabetes and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. [ ^1^]


Data are only collected in odd numbered years. The 2015 sample size was too small to calculate reliable rates and 2017 data are not yet available.[[br]] This is a Healthy New Jersey 2020 (HNJ2020) objective.   **Numerator too small to calculate a reliable rate.

Data Source

New Jersey Student Health Survey, Office of Student Support Services, Division of Student Services and Career Readiness, New Jersey Department of Education, []

Data Interpretation Issues

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and New Jersey Student Health Survey (NJSHS) BMI data should be used with caution since individual height and weight are self-reported. People tend to underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, resulting in a lower BMI compared to if the individual was actually weighed and measured.


Percent of high school students who were obese (greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for body mass index, by age and sex)


Number of high school students whose body mass index was greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for Body Mass Index (BMI) for their age and gender


Total number of high school students surveyed

Other Objectives

'''Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective NF-1b''': Prevent an increase in the proportion of high school students in grades 9-12 who are obese. Targets are 10.3% for the total population, 8.2% among Whites, 16.5% among Blacks, and 14.4% among Hispanics.

How Are We Doing?

The obesity rate among high school students has remained constant at about 9-11% since data became available in 2001. While the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups alternates between that of Blacks and that of Hispanics, the rate among Whites is consistently the lowest of those three groups. Data for other racial/ethnic groups are not provided in the New Jersey Student Health Survey due to a low number of survey respondents.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The proportion of New Jersey high school students who are obese is consistently lower than that of the nation as a whole.

What Is Being Done?

The NJ Department of Health's Office of Nutrition and Fitness works to reduce obesity in New Jersey by providing programs, information and resources designed to reach New Jerseyans, particularly those at risk of obesity and related health outcomes. One initiative, ShapingNJ, works in the school setting to help schools serve healthy meals and keep their students active. ShapingNJ's community-focused work impacts high school students as it works to ensure that healthy foods are available in all communities, that there are opportunities to be active in the community, and that those opportunities are safe. One such activity links communities and schools by developing joint use agreements to open up school gyms, tracks, and recreation facilities to community members. Another initiative, HealthCorps, addresses students' mind, body, and spirit through an innovative health curriculum that gives teens purpose in an effort to help stem the child obesity crisis. Through HealthCorps' in-school health mentoring program, HealthCorps reaches students, faculty, parents and school staff, as well as community residents with whom they connect through community outreach and public events. New Jersey has implemented the following legislative actions and policies to address obesity in schools: - NJ has nutritional standards for competitive foods sold a la carte, in vending machines, in school stores, or in school bake sales. - NJ has nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks that are stricter than current USDA requirements. - NJ has core curriculum standards for health and physical education that requires that students have a minimum of 150 minutes of health, physical education (PE), and safety education per week in grades 1 through 12.
Page Content Updated On 11/24/2017, Published on 11/24/2017
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Tue, 21 August 2018 10:15:13 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 23 May 2018 05:01:08 EDT