The Role of the Geographic Information Systems Infrastructure in Childhood Obesity Prevention: Perspective from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

American Journal of Preventive MedicineAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, May 2012, Vol. 42, No. 5

“Childhood obesity is a serious public health epidemic. Childhood obesity rates have soared in just 4 decades, nearly tripling in children aged 2–5 years and 12–19 years, while quadrupling in children and adolescents aged 6–11 years. Recent estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey report that 17% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are overweight.

“Genetics, although a partial explanation for excess weight, is not the cause of the soaring rates of childhood obesity. Changes in human genetic composition have not occurred during the time period over which the epidemic has developed; rather, societal changes that have occurred in the past 4 decades have fueled the epidemic. Children today engage much less with the world outside their homes in terms of physical activity and much more in terms of eating. Sadly, inactivity and unhealthful eating have become the social norm in many communities across the nation, resulting in energy imbalance. Such an imbalance impedes the reversal of the childhood obesity epidemic. For reversal to occur, energy balance must be maintained.”