Weight of the Problem
Did you know that one in four children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese? Learn more about the scope of the issue and what it could mean to you...
A local problem...
Of the fifty states, Arizona ranks 25th in the nation for childhood overweight or obesity (1 is the best ranking). The prevalence of overweight in Arizona's children five years and less is 13.5%. Data from the 2006 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System indicate 28.6% of low-income children ages 2 to 5 in Arizona are either overweight or obese. According to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, Child Policy Research Center, children who live below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level in Arizona have a prevalence of overweight and obesity at 39.4%, which is twice as high as the rate for higher-income children at 19.1%. Children living in families with public insurance have overweight or obesity rates of 43.1% as compared to those with private insurance at 23.2%.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that chronic diseases account for seven of ten leading causes of death in the state of Arizona. They are the most prevalent, costly, and preventable of all health problems. In Arizona, many chronic diseases are preventable by minimizing the severity and number of risk factors present. With the majority of the leading chronic conditions, the primary risk factors are overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. The high percentage of minorities in Arizona, many isolated by language, further underscores the burden of this medically underserved population. Other risk factors include race/ethnicity, environmental exposure, aging, limited education, and low socio-economic status.
Obesity is now ranked as the number one killer in Arizona, recently surpassing tobacco-related deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Data from the 2007 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) show that 58 percent of Maricopa County adults are overweight or obese, and within the target area rates of being overweight or obese have risen from slightly more than half the population in 2006 (54.1%) to more than two-thirds of adults (67.2%). About half of adults report getting no physical activity and about one third of adults report eating less than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day (BRFSS, 2007).
Arizona YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2005) findings for 2005 indicate high rates of obesity among high school aged youth. This survey found 12 percent of students are overweight with another 14 percent being at risk for becoming overweight. Nearly one-third of students (32%) described themselves as slightly or very overweight while 46 percent reported trying to lose weight. Females are more likely to report efforts to lose weight (61%) than their male counterparts (46%). Less than one in five students ate five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables in the past week. The majority (68%) do not receive currently recommended levels of physical activity. Almost three-quarters of youth (74%) did not attend physical education class daily and 57 percent report not attending physical education classes at all (YRBS, 2005).