New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study: Camden School BMI Data

These reports present the results for Camden as part of the New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study, based on the household survey, school body mass index (BMI) data, and food and physical activity environment data.

Key Findings:

  • School BMI: Camden children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their counterparts around the country. The rates are highest among Hispanic children and among the youngest (3–5 years) and the oldest (12–18 years) age groups.
  • Food Behaviors: The majority of Camden children do not meet recommendations for vegetable consumption. They also frequently consume energy-dense foods such as fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweet and salty snacks. Non-Hispanic Black children tend to consume these energy-dense foods most frequently.
  • Food Environment: Although most parents shop at supermarkets and superstores, they report limited availability of fresh produce and low-fat items at these stores. Almost half of the families do not shop in their neighborhood. Cost, quality and lack of stores in the neighborhood are main barriers identified by the parents.
  • Physical Activity Behaviors: Most children do not meet the guidelines for being physically active for 60 minutes each day. In addition, a large proportion spend more than two hours a day watching television, using the computer and playing video games. The majority of children do not walk or bike to school and many do not use the sidewalks, parks and exercise facilities available in their neighborhoods. More than half do not live near exercise facilities and a fifth do not have parks nearby.
  • Physical Activity Environment: Although many neighborhoods have sidewalks and some have parks and exercise facilities, a large number of parents report that their children do not use these facilities to be active. Crime level, pleasantness of neighborhoods and parks, and condition of sidewalks are the most commonly reported barriers. Effective interventions will require changes in the neighborhood environment by creating new opportunities, improving existing features, and addressing barriers associated with practicing healthy behaviors. Efforts are also needed to raise awareness about the issue of childhood obesity and associated behaviors among parents and caregivers.