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J Public Health Dent. 2011 Fall;71(4):301-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2011.00272.x. Epub 2011 May 31.

Body mass index measurement in schools: partnering with oral health.

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  • 1Ohio Department of Health, Columbus, OH, USA.



The purpose of this review was to examine methodological similarities and differences in states that have implemented joint school-based oral health/body mass index (BMI) surveillance.


Individuals in states with joint oral health/BMI surveillance were interviewed by e-mail and phone on the following: how the collaboration came about, survey methodology, rewards for participation, BMI data collection methods, data forms, BMI results, how BMI data were utilized, lessons learned, and challenges.


Nine states were represented in this review (Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). All states collected surveillance data among third-grade children through selecting a random, stratified sample of elementary schools. These states also used state-specific BMI protocols, including use of standardized, calibrated equipment to measure height/weight. Many states also used local support to implement the surveillance program and used external sources for statistical support. Differences among these states included types of rewards used, mode of consent, and parties involved in the collaboration. The most common uses of the BMI data include: assessing the magnitude of the problem, informing programs, allocation of resources, identification of priority areas for prevention research, support for grant applications, and program evaluation.


Although there are some minor differences among states that have implemented joint school-based oral health/BMI surveillance, there are overarching similarities such as survey design and standardization of BMI measures. States considering implementing BMI surveillance efforts can use this review as a starting point to consider attributes such as program effectiveness and methods to improve or enhance surveillance systems already in place.

© 2011 American Association of Public Health Dentistry.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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