School BMI Screening Data

This Population Health Information Tool (PHIT) dataset contains the results of the annual Body Mass Index (BMI) screening of public school children in Massachusetts. Results show the prevalence of overweight and obesity for the state as a whole.

About the Data

These data can be used to compare the prevalence of overweight and obesity in different school districts, and to track changes in prevalence over time. Students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 are screened at school, primarily by school nurses. The results show the percentage of children in each school district who are underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. Results are available by grade level and gender. 

*Note, these data are currently only available in report format.

About School BMI Screening Data

Note: Data that did not pass data quality tests were excluded from the analysis.

Definitions and Caveats

  • Underweight – BMI for age percentile < 5th percentile;
  • Healthy weight – BMI for age percentile between 5th and 85th percentile;
  • Overweight – BMI for age percentile between 85th and 95th percentile;
  • Obese – BMI for age percentile ≥ 95th percentile. 
  • * indicates cases in which fewer than 10 students were screened are suppressed due to the small number of individuals

Rates in districts with a small number of screened students should be interpreted cautiously due to the instability of estimates when small numbers are involved. 

BMI statistics may vary from year to year due to factors that do not reflect long-term trends. Increases or decreases in any single year should be interpreted with caution.

Aggregation of Regional Data

The school districts in most cities and towns serve elementary, middle, and high school students and the BMI statistics for those districts reflect overweight and obesity levels for students in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10.

In some small cities and towns, however, schools are organized into regional school districts, with elementary school students attending schools in one district, middle school students attending schools in another district, and high school students attending schools in yet a third district. The specific organizational structure of these school districts varies by region. As a result, there may be more than one local or regional school district serving students from the same community or region. In these cases, when separate BMI statistics are reported for each district, it provides a scattered picture of the weight status of students from those towns. In order to provide a more unified view of the weight status of students in those towns and regions, wherever possible DPH combined BMI statistics from all of the districts serving the same geographical area. 
Note:  School Unions are comprised of several small districts. 

Abbreviation Description 

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Additional Resources

Contact   for School BMI Screening Data


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