Declining trends and widening disparities in overweight and obesity prevalence among Massachusetts public school districts (2009-2014)
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 (MiM) prevention programs. We assessed trends in prevalence of overweight and obesity between 2009 and 2014 by district, sex, grade, district income and presence of MiM program, and modification of MiM effect by district-level income.
Results: From 2009 to 2014, prevalence decreased 3.0% statewide, 1.2% for MiM and 3.2% for non-MiM districts. 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. While rates of districts with median household income >$37,000 improved notably, rates of the poorest remain unchanged and around 40%.
Conclusion: While overall prevalence began to decrease, the geographic and socioeconomic disparities in childhood obesity are widening and remain a public health challenge in Massachusetts. Existing community-based prevention programs should be carefully examined and improved to mitigate disparities.
Learning Areas:Biostatistics, economics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Evaluate sociodemographic disparities in trends in prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Massachusetts public school districts between 2009 and 2014. Discuss future strategies for prevention of childhood overweight and obesity.
Keyword(s): Community Health Programs, Obesity
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Associate Professor of Medicine (Biostatistics) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I have been conducting public health program evluations over the past 10 years. My work has been published in leading public health and medical journals including American Journal of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.