New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study: New Brunswick School BMI Data

These reports share findings from the New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study's analysis of New Brunswick. Information for this study is provided by the household survey, school body mass index (BMI) data, and food and physical activity environment data.

Key Findings:

  • School BMI: New Brunswick children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their national counterparts. The rates for obesity are highest among males, younger children, and Hispanic children. The largest differences between New Brunswick public school children and national estimates are seen among the youngest children (48% in New Brunswick versus 21% nationally for overweight and obese).
  • Food Behaviors: Almost all of New Brunswick children (88%) do not meet recommendations for vegetable consumption. Non-Hispanic Black children also frequently consume energy-dense foods such as fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Food Environment: Although most parents shop at supermarkets and superstores, nearly one-quarter of Hispanic parents shop at corner stores or bodegas for most of their food shopping. About half report limited availability of fresh produce and low-fat items at their main food shopping store. Forty percent of families do not food-shop in their neighborhood. Cost is the main reason for choice of a food store.
  • Physical Activity Behaviors: Almost all children do not meet the guidelines for being physically active for 60 minutes each day. In addition, a large proportion of non-Hispanic Black children spend more than two hours watching television, using the computer and playing video games. 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. Almost half do not live near exercise facilities and many 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 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.

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