A landmark multi-agency research study titled "Overweight and Obesity Prevalence Among Public School Children in Guam" will be published in the John Hopkins University Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. The five-year study began following Public Law 28-87, which allowed for collection of body mass index measurements by the Department of Education.

The results show that Guam students have an obesity rate much higher than the national average. Dr. Yvette Paulino told KUAM News, "So what do we know about the burden of childhood obesity? Worldwide estimates for school age children we know it's about 10% for overweight and 2-3% for obesity." Guam is well above both the world and national averages, with 15-16% of students overweight, and 19-27% obese.

However, obesity rates did decline over the four-year period. Paulino added, "This is actually a significant decline in obesity rates from 23.6% to 22.6%, which is about a 4% decrease."

Dr. Zenaida Natividad says understanding this data can help Guam move in the right direction, noting, "One of the key solutions to childhood obesity in Guam is the concerted effort not just of the school system, but also the community."

There are several organizations supporting student health and wellness including the Sustantia Consortium, the NCD Consortium, as well DOE with its "Super Chef" campaign. Annual BMI checks are also educating students while bringing greater awareness to parents.

DOE head nurse Julietta Quinene said, "Awareness is the key point, they can take that home and encourage their parents to do activities with them, too. I always say we have 180 days in school, but we have 185 not at school and this is where parents come in, and this is where the community comes in, as well."

Superintendent of public education Jon Fernandez said the data will help DOE make better decisions regarding school lunch, nutrition, and physical education programs. Dr. Paulino will be presenting the research in Washington, DC on June 10.