Change the Statistics – March is National Nutrition Month®
By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart® Learning Contributor
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has designated the month of March as National Nutrition Month®, using it as an opportunity to educate and inform the public about the importance of healthy food choices and physical activity, as well as to promote the profession of dietetics.
Nutrition is an important topic, and National Nutrition Month® is a perfect time to educate ourselves, as well as others. Let’s start with the defining the terms “overweight” and “obesity”. For both adults and youth, the definition is based on body mass index (BMI). In adults, a BMI of greater than or equal to 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese. For youth, BMI is calculated as a percentile in comparison to others of the same age and gender according to the 2000 CDC growth charts. An overweight youth falls between the 85th to less than the 95th percentile; and, an obese youth falls within the 95th or greater percentile. 
The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has published interesting, but alarming, statistics regarding the prevalence of obesity in the United States. Between 2011 and 2014, just over 36% of adults and 17% of youth were considered obese. The prevalence of obesity was higher among adult women than adult men up to the age of 60, but there was not much difference based on gender after age 60. The statistics also showed little difference in the prevalence of obesity between male and female youth. Ethnicity also plays a role for both adults and youth, and the prevalence ranged widely. The lowest prevalence of obesity is among Non-Hispanic Asian adults at 11.7%, followed by 34.5% of non-Hispanic white adults, 41.8% of non-Hispanic black adults and 42.5% of Hispanic adults. For youth, the ranking was similar by ethnicity group, but lower overall in percentage: 8.6% of non-Hispanic Asian youth, followed by 14.7% of non-Hispanic white youth, 19.5% of non-Hispanic black youth and 21.9% of Hispanic youth.
Statistics don’t lie. They snap a picture of us at a particular time, or tell our story over a period of years. Those who are overweight or obese may be bullied as children or treated unfairly as adults. But, weight does not define who a person is–their hopes and dreams, skills and abilities, or their future. We can choose to tell a different story going forward—for ourselves, and for those we help care for. We have the opportunity to move in a heathier direction by improving our nutrition and increasing our physical activity. As we do that, the statistics will improve.
Take a few minutes to explore resources for healthy eating and activity, as well as the dietary guidelines for Americans, at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
You may also be interested in:
 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2018). National Nutrition Month. Retrieved March 6, 20118 from https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month
 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2017). Defining Overweight and Obese. Retrieved March 6, 2018 from https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/overweight-and-obesity/defining-overweight-and-obese
[3,4] Ogden, C., Carroll, M., Fryar, C., & Flegal, K. (2015). Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011 – 2014. NCHS Data Brief, No. 219, November, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2010 from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf