Youth Who are Overweight or Obese, 2018

Youth Who are Overweight or Obese, 2018

What does this measure?

The share of students in grades 7-12 who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is at or above the 85th percentile for their age and gender. The index is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. Children are considered overweight if their BMI is at or above the 85th percentile for their age and gender, and they are considered obese at or above the 95th percentile.

Why is this important?

Overweight children are at greater risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, breathing problems, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems. Overweight children and adolescents are also more likely to face social and psychological problems, such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem, and to be overweight as adults.

How is our county performing?

In 2018, 44% of Berks County students in grades 7-12 were either overweight or obese, which is above the state as a whole (37%). The county percentage was up 12 percentage points since 2009. Pennsylvania only had a 3 percentage point increase during the same period. Berks County had a slightly higher percentage of obese grade 7-12 students (21%) as the state (20%).

The percentage of overweight and obese grade 7-12 students in 2018 was lower than Berks in comparison counties. Schuylkill (41%) was closest. Lebanon (38%), Lehigh (36%), Lancaster (34%), Montgomery (31%) and Chester (29%) were all notably lower. Since 2009, Berks had the largest percentage point increase (12%) followed by Lancaster at 4 percentage points, Lebanon and Schuylkill at 3 percentage points, and Montgomery at 1 percentage point. Chester had a large decrease of 7 percentage points, while Lehigh declined by 4 percentage points.

Notes about the data

BMI data are collected and reported annually by public school entities to the Pennsylvania Department of Health which then publishes annual reports at the county level. This information is published separately for students in grades K-6 and 7-12 and cannot be aggregated and thus is reported separately here as well. Note that these are exclusive categories: obese students are not counted within the overweight category, and vice versa.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Youth Who are Overweight or Obese, 2018
Berks County44%21%23%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County29%13%17%
Lancaster County34%18%16%
Lebanon County38%21%17%
Lehigh County36%19%17%
Montgomery County31%16%15%
Schuylkill County41%24%16%

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Youth Who are Overweight or Obese, 2009
Berks County32%18%15%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County36%13%23%
Lancaster County30%15%15%
Lebanon County35%19%16%
Lehigh County40%16%24%
Montgomery County30%12%18%
Schuylkill County38%22%17%

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Maintaining
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households by type Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Seniors Living Alone Maintaining
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
Employment to Population ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Receiving Supplemental Security Income Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Increasing
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Toxic Chemical Releases Decreasing
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing