Teen Obesity

Teen obesity in South Region remains elevated as rates in Seattle decrease.

In a survey of Washington public school students, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked for their height, weight, gender and age. For 2014 and 2016 combined, 9% of students reported heights and weights that classified them as obese for their gender and age.

  • Place: The teen obesity rate in South region (13%) was almost twice the rate seen in the rest of the county: North Region (7%), Seattle (7%) and East Region (6%).

  • Trends: The overall teen obesity rate for the county remained stable at or near 9%, but this masked divergent trends in some communities within the county.  In 2004, rates were similar in Seattle and South Region. But by 2016, Seattle rates had fallen by almost half (from 12% to 7%) while rates in South Region increased (from 11% to 14%). Also, obesity in Black/African American students fell from 16% to 12% during this period.

  • Gender: Obesity rates were twice as high in males (12%) than in females (6%).

  • Sexual orientation: At 14%, the obesity rate in lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens was higher than the county average.

  • Race and ethnicity: Three racial/ethnic groups were more likely than King County teens as a whole to report heights and weights that classified them as obese: Black/African American teens (12%), Hispanic/Latino teens (16%), and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander teens (26%). Asian teens (6%) were less likely to be obese than the county average.

In total, 21% of teens reported heights and weights that classified them as overweight or obese. If you are interested in rates of teens who are overweight but not obese, please refer to Teen: Overweight (But Not Obese)


Notes & Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey.

Numerator: Students who reported a height and weight that classified them as obese.

Denominator: All students who answered the questions.

Students were asked “How tall are you without your shoes on?” and “How much do you weigh without your shoes on?” These self-reported data on height and weight were used to calculate each student’s Body Mass Index.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio of weight to height used in defining obesity and overweight. Youth are considered obese if their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and gender. Youth are considered overweight if the BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for students of the same age and gender.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades students answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey