Erie Vital Signs

Health Behaviors and Disease Prevention: Grades 7-12 - Overweight or Obese

Recent Performance

This trend is negative or needs improvement.

According to the most recent Growth Screens/BMI-For-Age Percentiles data that schools and other education organizations report to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the rate of Erie County children in grades 7 through 12 who are overweight has gradually risen while the rate for healthy weight children gradually decreased from the 2007-2008 school year through the 2011-2012 school year. The 2012-2013 school year saw a decrease in obese and healthy weight children and a sharp increase in overweight children.

The county rate for both obese and healthy weight children in grades 7 through 12 dropped below the state average for children in those grades, but surpassed the state rates for overweight children. Slightly less than 1 in 2 adolescent children in the county are overweight or obese.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of students in grades 7 through 12 who have a Body Mass Index equal to or above the 85th percentile.

Why It's Important

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of a range of serious health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The rate of children who are overweight or obese is particularly troubling. Such conditions increase the risk of an early onset of a chronic disease, such as diabetes. And research suggests the risks to overweight or obese children are progressive and threaten to shorten their life expectancy.

A lower percentage of children who are overweight or obese is better, of course.

The Details

The Pennsylvania Public School Code requires that every child of school age attending or who should attend a public or private/non-public school within the Commonwealth must receive a certain set of health services. Via submission of an annual school health report, the local school district is reimbursed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for provision of the mandated services. The mandated services include a Growth Screen. 28 PA Code, Chapter 23.7 states "Height and weight measurement shall be conducted at least once annually and preferably twice annually. " From height and weight data, it is possible to calculate the Body Mass Index.


This EVS indicator has no subcategories, but the raw data do provide the percentage of students who are in the bottom five percentiles for BMI, who are at risk for being underweight.

Peer Areas

Erie Vital Signs tracks only the State of Pennsylvania as a peer for this indicator.


Annual, for school years.


The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Growth Screens/BMI-For-Age Percentiles by Health District and County, 2012-13 school year. (See “All the Nitty-Gritty Details” for links to the data.)

Other Related Data

Additional Studies and Research

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