Statement of Need

Childhood obesity is a major American health crisis that has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents across the country were classified as overweight or obese. While childhood obesity is increasing in all ethnic and racial groups, it is more prevalent among certain groups, including African Americans and Mexican Americans. The relationship between socio-economic status and childhood obesity can be complicated when viewed across racial and ethnic groups. However, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2008) revealed that low-income children and adolescents are more likely to be obese than their higher income peers.
Children living in low-income communities face increased risk of childhood obesity due to various environmental challenges. High crime rates and a shortage of open spaces impede children from attaining recommended levels of physical activity. Many public schools have scaled back physical education programs due to budget constraints and an increased focus on standardized testing. The ratio of students to physical education teachers in NYC’s public elementary schools is 730:1. Nearly half of schools offer no after school sports or physical activities. A 2010 audit by the NYC Comptroller’s Office revealed that only 2 out of 31 surveyed public elementary schools were compliant with the requirement to provide 120 minutes of weekly physical activity to students. Low-income communities often face a shortage of healthy food choices, known as food deserts, and many low-income families rely on inexpensive, highly-processed foods.

Childhood obesity is associated with poor outcomes affecting children’s health, self-esteem, academic performance, and future productivity. Overweight children are at high risk of developing serious illnesses like type II diabetes, severe asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, pulmonary disease, and sleep apnea. In addition, they have higher rates of school absenteeism and poor school performance and are likely to grow up to be overweight adults. Knockout Obesity aims to make an immediate and lasting change in NYC’s least served communities through a three-prong strategy that focuses on Physical Fitness, Nutrition Education, and Capacity-Building.