More than two-thirds of U.S. adults and almost one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. There are many factors that contribute to obesity.  Neighborhood design, access to nutritious, affordable foods and beverages, and access to safe and convenient places for physical activity can all impact weight and health.  The racial and ethnic disparities in obesity underscore the need to address social determinants of health such as poverty, education, and housing to improve health equity.

Obesity is a major public health concern in the United States as it is a contributing factor to many diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Factors that contribute to obesity in adults and children may include:

  • Physical Determinants of Health including housing, community design, natural environment, and built environment including lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, etc.
  • Social Determinants of Health including poverty, education, access to health care, social support, racism, transportation, etc.
  • Heredity and family (genetics)
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Dietary patterns

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States putting children and adolescents at risk for poor health throughout their lives. Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index ( BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. Today, more and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and other co-morbid conditions associated with obesity and severe obesity.

5-2-1-0 Building Healthy Habits Initiative

The American Academy of Pediatrics developed the evidence-based 5-2-1-0 recommendations to provide simple guidelines that can help children develop healthy habits. We work with partners to promote the 5-2-1-0 guidelines, reduce obesity stigma, and help children and families build healthy habits. Below are some resources to help you incorporate and promote 5-2-1-0 guidelines. If you have questions about the 5-2-1-0 initiative, or want to become a partner, please contact us at gethealthy@snhd.org.

Body Mass Index

Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual.  BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of the body height.

To estimate your BMI, see the Adult BMI Calculator or determine BMI by finding your height and weight in this BMI Index Chart.

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal range
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range

To estimate a child or teen’s Body Mass Index (BMI), type height and weight into the Child and Teen BMI Calculator

Following a healthy lifestyle may help to prevent obesity, as well as other negative health outcomes. Start building healthy habits now:

  • Make healthy food and beverage choices
  • Reduce screen time
  • Watch portion sizes in fast food and other restaurants
  • Be active – get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week
  • Get enough sleep

Talk with your healthcare provider about your daily habits, medical history and family medical history to determine the best ways for you to improve your health.