Obesity among Hawaii high schoolers declines, bucking national trend

Obesity among Hawaii high schoolers declines, bucking national trend

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is among a handful of states where obesity among high schoolers is on the decline.

That's according to a new analysis from the State of Obesity project, which ranked Hawaii 24th in the nation for its high school obesity rate. (The higher a state's ranking, the lower its obesity rate.)

In 2015, 12.9 percent of Hawaii public high school students were obese, according to a survey that relies on self-reporting.

By comparison, 15 percent of Hawaii high schoolers were considered obese in 2007. Obesity declined to 14.2 percent in 2009 and was down to 13.4 percent two years later.

Most other states are seeing the trend go in the opposite direction.

Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity among high schoolers. In 2015, 19 percent of high school students were obese, up from 15.4 percent in 2013.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, saw its high school obesity rate shoot up by more than five percentage points from 2013 to 2015. Some 17 percent of the state's high schoolers are in the category.

The lowest rate of obesity among high schoolers was found in Montana, where 10.3 percent of high schoolers are obese. Still that's up from 9.4 percent in 2013.

The survey defines obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or more. A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. (Survey takers are asked to report their height and weight, and the BMI is calculated to determine obesity rates.)

Worth noting: BMI has been criticized as a reliable way to determine obesity, and the State of Obesity project authors do note that BMI is one of a number of factors that should be considered -- including waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar -- in determining whether someone is of a healthy weight.

Still, it's notable that Hawaii is seeing its numbers move in the right direction when it comes to high schoolers, especially given that obesity among Hawaii adults continues to rise.

About 22 percent of Hawaii adults are obese, up from 16 percent in 2000. Obesity is higher among men in Hawaii and ethnic minorities.

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