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Indicator Report - Overweight WIC Children

Why Is This Important?

Childhood overweight is a serious health problem in the United States, and the prevalence of overweight among preschool children has doubled since the 1970s. There have been significant increases in the prevalence of overweight in children younger than 5 years of age across all ethnic groups.

Onset of overweight in childhood accounts for 25% of adult obesity; but overweight that begins before age 8 and persists into adulthood is associated with an even greater degree of adult obesity. Childhood overweight is associated with a variety of adverse consequences, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, social stigmatization, and low self-esteem.

It was reported that 13% of children participating in the WIC program were overweight (Cole, 2001). According to the National Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS) 2002 report, 14% of children aged 2 to 5 years enrolled in federally funded maternal and child health programs (survey population consisted of 83% of WIC children) were overweight (Polhamus et al., 2004). In Utah, according to the 2005 PedNSS report, 21.8% of all children ages 2 to 5 years exhibited a BMI at or greater than the 85th percentile. The increasing prevalence of childhood obesity has been especially pervasive among different minority groups. In the 2002 PedNSS report, it was illustrated that the highest rates were among Hispanic (19%) and American Indian children (18%) compared to non-Hispanic White and Black children (12%) (Polhamus et al., 2004). The highest rates in Utah, according to the 2005 PedNSS report, are among the Black, non-Hispanic and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations at 22% and 36%, respectively. This same report indicated that the rate for the non-Hispanic White children was 16.9%.

The rising rates of childhood overweight have also been influenced by maternal obesity. In a study of low-income families participating in the WIC program, children whose mothers were obese during early pregnancy were 2.5 times more likely to be overweight during the preschool years (Whitaker, 2004).

Percentage of 2- to 5-year-old WIC Children With a BMI >= 85th Percentile in Utah by Race, 2000-2005; 2010

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Please note a data gap existed from 2005 to 2010 due to a new computer system and the inability to receive and transfer data. New data were available from CDC in 2010 and all values were updated.

Data Sources

CDC Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS). Utah Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, Division of Family Health and Preparedness, Utah Department of Health.

Other Views


The USDA WIC program defines children at risk of overweight as being 2 to 5 years of age and greater than or equal to the 85th and less than the 95th percentile Body Mass Index (BMI) while overweight children are defined as being 2 years to 5 years of age and greater than or equal to the 95th percentile BMI.

How We Calculated the Rates

Numerator: The number of children, ages 2 to 5 years, receiving WIC services with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile.
Denominator: The number of children, ages 2 to 5 years, receiving WIC services during the reporting period.

Page Content Updated On 11/22/2011, Published on 12/08/2011
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Sun, 24 May 2015 23:16:09 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:09:22 MST