The New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study presents findings from Vineland, using information from the household survey, school-based body mass index (BMI) data, and food and physical activity environment data.
- School BMI: Vineland children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their counterparts around the country. The rates are highest among children ages 6–11 and Hispanic children. The largest differences between Vineland public school children and national estimates are seen among the youngest children (40% in Vineland are overweight and obese compared to 21% nationally).
- Food Behaviors: Almost all children in Vineland (90%) do not meet recommendations for vegetable consumption. Energy-dense foods such as fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweet snacks are frequently consumed, and this is more prevalent among children 6 and older.
- Food Environment: Almost all the parents in Vineland shop at supermarkets and superstores for most of their food shopping. Over 40 percent report limited availability of fresh produce and low-fat items at these stores. Twenty-three percent of families do not food-shop in their neighborhood. Lack of stores in the neighborhood and cost are the main barriers to shopping in the neighborhood identified by the parents.
- Physical Activity Behaviors: The majority of 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 watching television, using the computer and playing video games, and this is more prevalent among boys and older children. Most children (85%) do not walk or bike to school.
- Physical Activity Environment: Nearly half the neighborhoods do not have sidewalks, one-third do not have parks, and 40 percent lack exercise facilities. Even when facilities are available, 22 percent do not use the parks and 21 percent do not use exercise facilities. A quarter of the parents report that their neighborhood is unsafe due to traffic. 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.