New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study: Trenton Chartbook

These reports present the results for Trenton 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: Of the five New Jersey cities in this study, Trenton had the highest rate of obesity. Trenton children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their counterparts around the country. The rates are highest among Hispanic children. The largest differences between Trenton public school children and national estimates are seen among the youngest children (49% in Trenton are overweight or obese versus 21% nationally). National data are based on 2–5 year old children and Trenton data are based on 3–5 year olds.
  • Food Behaviors: The majority of Trenton children do not meet recommendations for vegetable consumption. They also frequently consume energy-dense foods such as fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweet snacks, and this is more prevalent among non-Hispanic Black and older children.
  • Food Environment: Most parents shop at supermarkets and superstores for most of their food shopping. About one-third report limited availability of fresh produce and low-fat items at these stores. Forty-four percent of families do not food-shop in their neighborhood. Lack of stores in the neighborhood, cost and quality are reported as major barriers to buying healthy foods.
  • Physical Activity Behaviors: Most children do not meet the guidelines for being physically active for 60 minutes each day. Thirty-five percent of children exercise at school only two or fewer days per week, and this was more prevalent among girls and Hispanic children. In addition, a large proportion spend more than two hours a day watching television, using the computer and playing video games, and this is more prevalent among boys and non-Hispanic Black children. The majority of children do not walk or bike to school and some do not use the sidewalks, parks and exercise facilities available in their neighborhoods. 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 fair number of parents report that their children do not use these facilities to be active. Traffic, 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 to practicing healthy behaviors. Efforts are also needed to raise awareness about the issue of childhood obesity and associated behaviors among parents and caregivers.