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Youth obesity is defined as having a BMI-for-age at or over the 95th percentile and is determined by measuring BMI-for-age, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) methodology that takes into account a youth’s height, weight, gender, and age in months.  Data presented below include the percentage of Maryland youth (high school grades 9-12) who:  are obese (as defined by the above methodology), describe themselves as overweight, or are trying to lose weight.


Percentage of Maryland public school students
in grades 9-12 who:

2005 2007 2009 2011 2013
Are overweight or obese (measured by BMI-for-age) 28.7 28.3 27.9 27.4 25.8
Describe themselves as overweight 27.4 27.5 27.5 26.3 26.7
Are trying to lose weight 42.5 42.6 43.7 44.2 44.7

Data Source: The Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

Story Behind the Data:

The national prevalence of obesity among adolescents ages 12 to 19 quadrupled from 1966 to 2008 (from 4.6% to 18.1%).* Obese youth are at risk for factors associated with cardiovascular disease (e.g., cholesterol or high blood pressure), bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem.  Obese youth are at increased risk of becoming obese adults, and therefore, the associated adult health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

  • The percentage of Maryland youth who are overweight or obese (as measured by BMI-for-age) has decreased between 2005 and 2013, though this difference is not statistically significant. Approximately one in four Maryland youth is overweight or obese (25.8% in 2013).
  •  The percentage of Maryland youth who describe themselves as overweight remains unchanged between 2005 and 2013. The difference between males and females describing themselves as slightly or very overweight is statistically significant (21.7% and 31.9% in 2013, respectively).
  •  Nearly half (44.7%) of Maryland youth are trying to lose weight, more so among females than males (58.5% vs. 31.0%); this difference is statistically significant.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) supports programs in comprehensive health and physical education.  Both of these content areas address the health and wellness of Maryland’s students.  MSDE works closely with the Maryland Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. MSDE specialists staff the Maryland Health and Physical Education Advisory Council, which identifies promising practices for health and physical education, builds a professional network to share that information and strengthens partnerships, and supports and expands successful health and physical education programs in Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and University of Maryland School of Medicine also collaborate with MSDE to support local wellness policy initiatives, create resources, and evaluate local implementation of wellness policies.  Throughout Maryland, local health departments and local school systems partner to implement Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP) to help students meet the nationally recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Additional Information:



*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 2010.