Obesity & Physical Activity 

The consequences arising from childhood obesity are serious, complex, and can be long lasting. Obesity is associated with many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, asthma, other acute and chronic health problems; and an increased susceptibility for social and psychological problems. 

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve strength and endurance, help control weight, and prevent chronic disease. It has also been shown to improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Research also shows positive effects on the brain, including improved attention, processing, memory, and coping.

While no single factor is driving the increased prevalence of obesity, increasing physical activity is one strategy that can be taken along with others to help prevent and reduce the burden of child and adolescent obesity. However, too few children and youth are physically active for the recommended 60 minutes per day.

Obesity and Physical Activity-Related Publications

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  • Policy Brief: A Snapshot of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs in Rhode Island reports on Rhode Island school personnel experience with the various components of comprehensive school physical activity programs, and provides recommendations for increasing physical activity in Rhode Island schools. (March 2017)
  • Issue Brief: Preventing Bullying in Rhode Island SchoolsBullying behavior is a social, educational, and health problem that affects many children and adolescents in Rhode Island and in the U.S. Youth involved in bullying can experience higher rates of mental health problems, aggression, suicide, drug use, school absence, physical health problems, and cognitive functioning during childhood and adolescence as well as into adulthood. National, statewide, and community-specific information is presented, along with recommendations to prevent bullying in Rhode Island schools. (December 2016)
  • Policy Brief: Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools provides an overview of current practices and policies regarding physical activity in Rhode Island schools (including recess and physical education), and includes recommendations for promoting increased physical activity in schools. (April 2016)
  • Issue Brief: Child and Adolescent Obesity in Rhode Island presents new district-level information on positive health habits of Rhode Island students; and new city/town-level information presented on environmental and social measures relating to obesity. (November 2014)
  • Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Indicator: Obesity indicator from the 2018 Factbook


Additional Resources

Rhode Island

  • The Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute is a multi-institutional collaborative body that aims to make a transformative impact on the lives of children and their families in Rhode Island through applied research. On specific area of focus is regarding healthy weight, nutrition, and physical fitness. 
  • RIAHPERD is a state professional association of educators that advocate for quality programs in health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport. 
  • The Rhode Island Department of Health is the state agency that works to prevent disease and protect and promote the health and safety of the people of Rhode Island. 
  • The Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition supports schools in sustaining active wellness committees that develop and implement strong, comprehensive wellness policies. 
  • The State Innovation Model (SIM) is a $20 million dollar multi-year federal grant awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that seeks to transform the way healthcare is delivered and financed in Rhode Island. SIM is governed by a Steering Committee that includes numerous state government agencies, insurers, and community organizations. One population health project SIM is working on is the statewide collection of BMI data through electronic medical records. 
  • THRIVE is Rhode Island’s coordinated school health program that is jointly administered by the Rhode Island Departments of Education and Health. It provides information and resources that help stakeholders create safe, healthy, and nurturing schools that reduce barriers to learning.


  • Active Living Research is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative that is administered by the University of California, San Diego that provides interdisciplinary research about physical activity and obesity. 
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal agency providing information to enhance health decisions. An A to Z health index featured on the CDC website provides information on numerous health and safety related topics.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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