Over the past three decades, obesity has more than tripled in adolescents. In 2010, over one-third of youth were classified as overweight or obese (at or above the 85th or 95th percentile, respectively). Low-income, racial/ethnic minority youth are particularly at risk, with a 50-75 percent higher prevalence of overweight classifications in black and Mexican-American children. The annual obesity report from the Trust for America’s Health ranked Florida 12th in the percentage of overweight high school students.
Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth (FLIPANY) has worked with racial/ethnic minority youth in disadvantaged South Florida communities over the past three years delivering childhood obesity prevention and intervention programs. Although much of this work has been done in school/afterschool settings with existing policies regarding body mass index (BMI) screening, providers have expressed concerns that screening is unlikely to lead to benefit without additional resources available to families.
The limited research on school-based BMI screenings suggests that: screenings may not be associated with harm (e.g., increases in weight-based teasing), parent notification of BMI does not uniformly lead to changes in perception of child weight status, and BMI notification alone is unlikely to result in improved weight outcomes. Some literature also suggests that notifications should be tailored for racial/ethnic minority families.
FLIPANY will work with Nova Southeastern University to bring together overweight/obese youth, their parents/caregivers, and healthcare providers in order to understand their preferences for weight status notification and to form research questions around the most effective community-based intervention components that need to be included in the BMI notification and follow-up activities.