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Am J Public Health. 2004 Sep;94(9):1496-500.

Childhood obesity in New York City elementary school students.

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  • 1New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Division of Epidemiology, New York, NY 10013, USA.



We estimated overweight and obesity in New York City elementary school children.


A multistage cluster sample of New York City public elementary school children was selected. Nurses measured children's height and weight and used a standard protocol to determine body mass index (BMI). Demographic information was obtained from official school rosters. Overweight and obese were defined as BMI-for-age at or above the 85th and 95th percentiles, respectively.


Of 3069 sampled students, 2681 (87%) were measured. The prevalence of overweight was 43% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 39%, 47%), more than half of whom were obese. Overall prevalence of obesity was 24% (95% CI = 21%, 27%), with at least 20% obesity in each grade, including kindergarten. Hispanic children had significantly higher levels (31%; 95% CI = 29%, 34%) than Black (23%; 95% CI = 18%, 28%) or White children (16%; 95% CI = 12%, 20%). Asian children had the lowest level of obesity among all racial/ethnic groups (14.4%, 95% CI = 10.9, 18.7).


Obesity among public elementary school children in New York City is an important public health issue. Particularly high levels among Hispanic and Black children mirror national trends and are insufficiently understood.

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