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Result 1: Improved health status for New Mexicans

P002: Percent of third grade children who are considered obese

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

  • Childhood obesity occurs when a child is well above the healthy weight. Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.
  • Obese children are more likely to become obese adults with increased risk of chronic health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
  • New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) established a statewide childhood obesity surveillance system in 2010 to understand and track obesity prevalence among the New Mexico elementary school-age population. In 2016, 14.9% of kindergarten and 19.4% of third grade students were obese. American Indian children have the highest obesity rates among all racial/ethnic groups; by third grade, nearly one-in-two (48.7%) American Indian students is overweight or obese, followed by Hispanics (36.0%).
  • Consuming a healthy diet and being physically active can help children grow as well as maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood. Increasing opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity in the school and childcare settings is one way to expose children to healthy lifestyle behaviors at an early age.


  • Local Healthy Kids Healthy Communities (HKHC) coalitions in 14 counties and 5 tribes
  • Department of Human Services
  • Public Education Department
  • Children, Youth & Families Department
  • Women, Infants & Children Program 
  • New Mexico State University
  • University of New Mexico
  • Schools
  • Local and tribal governments
  • Parks and recreation
  • Cooking with Kids
  • Farm to Table

What Works

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Best and Promising Practices for Obesity Prevention:

  • Improving nutrition quality of foods and beverages served or available in schools consistent with the Institute of Medicine’s Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools (including increased access to fruit, vegetables, and plain drinking water).
  • Improving the quality and amount of physical education and activity in schools (including increased physical activity opportunities throughout the school day such as daily recess, mileage clubs, and walk and roll to school programs).


  • Establish and expand the 5.2.1.O Challenge in elementary schools.
  • Establish and expand healthy eating opportunities (fruit and vegetable tastings, salad bars, healthy snacks, edible gardens).
  • Establish and expand physical activity opportunities before, during, and after school (schoolyards for open community use, walk and roll to school programs, mileage clubs).

FY17 Annual Progress Summary

In FY17, the Obesity, Nutrition & Physical Activity (ONAPA) Program expanded the HKHC community transformation model to counties and tribal communities that had not yet been reached by comprehensive obesity prevention initiatives. 

  • Throughout the year, ONAPA worked closely with 14 counties and 5 tribal communities to build and maintain diverse coalition teams, create sustainable policy, systems, and environmental changes, and motivate children and families to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. 
  • In the fall of 2016, ONAPA and its partners completed statewide childhood obesity surveillance by measuring 7,557 students in 59 randomly selected public elementary schools.
  • In March 2017, ONAPA published its New Mexico Childhood Obesity 2016 Update. 
  • ONAPA and its partners built support for measuring an additional 2,961 students in 32 HKHC schools, so HKHC communities would have more representative childhood obesity data.
  • HKHC communities leveraged at least 38,000 partner volunteer hours and over 2.5 million dollars to support healthy eating and physical activity initiatives in the school setting, food setting, and built environment.

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