Medicaid-enrolled children who are not WIC participants (Buescher et al., 2003). Despite these improvements, the prevalences of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents, and children have increased dramatically—regardless of WIC participation.

Overweight and Obesity in Adolescent and Adult Women10,11

From 1976 to 1994, among women of childbearing ages (20 through 39 years) the prevalence of being overweight increased (Kuczmarski et al., 1994) and the prevalence of obesity doubled (Flegal et al., 1998). Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2000 indicate that 28 percent of nonpregnant women aged 20 through 39 years are obese (Flegal et al., 2002). More recent data from NHANES 2001–2002 indicate that the prevalence of obesity among these women remains high at 29 percent (Hedley et al., 2004). Excess body fat and physical inactivity are associated with the development of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, dyslipidemia (e.g., abnormally high blood cholesterol), osteoarthritis, respiratory ailments, sleep problems, certain cancers (e.g., breast cancer), and all-cause mortality (Mokdad et al., 2004).

While there is no firm evidence that the WIC participant population is any more prone to being overweight than non-WIC populations (CDC, 1996a, 1996b), neither are they protected. Overweight and obesity are prevalent among minority groups, except for Asian Americans. The latter group is the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country and still predominantly consists of first-generation immigrants. There is some evidence that overweight and obesity can be expected to become significant problems in these groups as well. Data from the most recent NHANES multistage probability sampling (1999–2002) estimate the overall prevalences of being overweight and obese at 70 and 47 percent for non-Hispanic black women, 62 and 31 percent for Mexican American women, and 50 and 25 percent for non-Hispanic white women, respectively (Hedley et al.,


Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass. Adults (age 20 years and above) are considered overweight if their individual BMI exceeds 25 and are considered obese if their BMI exceeds 30 (CDC, 2004d; Hedley et al., 2004). BMI is body mass index [weight (kg)/ height (m)2].


Children and adolescents are considered overweight if their individual BMI is equal to or exceeds the 95th percentile of the gender-specific CDC BMI-for-age growth charts (CDC, 2004d, 2004g; Hedley et al., 2004). Children and adolescents are considered at risk for overweight if their individual BMI is above the 85th percentile but less than the 95th percentile of the gender-specific CDC BMI-for-age growth charts (CDC, 2004d, 2004g; Hedley et al., 2004). The term obesity is generally not used to refer to children.

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