Healthy Children (Statewide)

Obesity: % of Maryland Public School Students in Grades 9-12 Who Are Overweight or Obese


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Story Behind the Curve

The national prevalence of obesity among adolescents ages 12 to 19 quadrupled from 1966 to 2008 (from 4.6% to 18.1%).* Obese youth are at risk for factors associated with cardiovascular disease (e.g., cholesterol or high blood pressure), bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem. Obese youth are at increased risk of becoming obese adults, and therefore, the associated adult health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

  • Approximately 18.4% of Maryland youth in grades 9 through 12 is obese, overweight and described themselves as overweight (18.4% in 2016).
  • In 2013, nearly half (44.7%) of Maryland youth were trying to lose weight, more so among females than males (58.5% vs. 31.0%); this difference is statistically significant.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) supports programs in comprehensive health and physical education. Both of these content areas address the health and wellness of Maryland’s students. MSDE works closely with the Maryland Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. MSDE specialists staff the Maryland Health and Physical Education Advisory Council, which identifies promising practices for health and physical education, builds a professional network to share that information and strengthens partnerships, and supports and expands successful health and physical education programs in Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Health and University of Maryland School of Medicine also collaborate with MSDE to support local wellness policy initiatives, create resources, and evaluate local implementation of wellness policies. Throughout Maryland, local health departments and local school systems partner to implement Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP) to help students meet the nationally recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Data Discussion

The percent of Maryland public school students in grades 9-12 who are overweight or obese. Youth obesity is defined as having a BMI-for-age at or over the 95th percentile and is determined by measuring BMI-for-age, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) methodology that takes into account a youth’s height, weight, gender, and age in months. Data presented below include the percentage of Maryland youth (high school grades 9-12) who: are obese (as defined by the above methodology), overweight, describe themselves as overweight and who are trying to lose weight (the last clause is only through 2013). 

Data beginning in 2013 is a combination of both metrics of those who are reported to be overweight or obsese.

Data Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy