Building a Healthier Future

Richard Besser
President & CEO, RWJF
Jamie Bussel
Senior Program Officer, RWJF
A message from Dr. Richard Besser and Jamie Bussel

“We are at a moment in our history where because of this crisis, we can change policies that will truly change the nature of our communities. We can transform our cities and towns into communities of opportunity and not communities that lead to the health consequences we’re seeing today.”

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Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic

Explore data interactives, read stories about how communities are responding to the pandemic, and find expert insights about promising strategies for helping all kids grow up healthy.

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Little girl playing doctors with teddy bear

Stories and Expert Perspectives

Hear from experts about the impact of policies and programs in their communities, read interviews with researchers about data releases, and learn how some communities are taking action to help more children grow up healthy.

Fast Facts About Childhood Obesity


In 2018-19, 15.5% of youth ages 10 to 17 had obesity, according to the latest National Survey of Children’s Health.


The 2017-18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found 19.3% of kids ages 2 to 19 had obesity.


In the U.S., childhood obesity alone is estimated to cost $14 billion annually in direct health expenses.

Interactive Data

Find the latest data from major federal surveys tracking state and national obesity rates and trends for children and teens.

National map of 2018 adult obesity rates by state


Adult obesity rates now exceed 35% in 12 states. Mississippi has the highest rate, 40.8%.
View the Interactive
National map of state by state obesity rates of children in WIC in 2016.

2-4 Year Olds

The rate of obesity declined from 15.9% in 2010 to 13.9% in 2016 among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for…
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National Obesity Monitor Preview

National Obesity Monitor

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is conducted every two years by the National Center for Health Statistics and funded by the Centers…
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Priority Policies

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping feed approximately 36 million Americans each month.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is one of the nation’s largest federal nutrition programs, serving about 6.3 million participants.

School Meals and Snacks

Many children consume up to half their daily calories at school. Nationwide more than 29 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program and nearly 15 million participate in the School Breakfast Program. 

See All Policies
Man carries crate of food at COVID distribution site


In the short term, modernizing and strengthening key policies is essential for America’s recovery from the pandemic. Longer-term reform to ensure programs and policies at all levels of government prioritize health and equity is critical for reducing disparities; creating healthier childcare settings, schools, and communities; and ensuring that all children can thrive. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offers a set of recommendations as federal, state, and local leaders work to respond to the pandemic and create long-lasting changes that will help all children grow up healthy and at a healthy weight.

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full report

State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic

This report, released in October 2020, presents the latest childhood obesity rates and trends, expert insights, relevant research, and policy developments, including emergency relief efforts to support major federal nutrition programs. It highlights promising strategies for prioritizing children’s health and improving equity in response to the pandemic and throughout recovery.

Download Report