RD551 - Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Impact Report: Childhood Obesity Prevention – 2023

Executive Summary:

Established in 1999 by the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by reducing and preventing youth tobacco use, substance use, and childhood obesity. VFHY receives no taxpayer funds; it is funded through Virginia’s share of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), a legal settlement between the state attorneys general of 46 states and the nation’s major tobacco manufacturers over tobacco-related health-care costs.

Due to VFHY’s success at reducing youth tobacco use in the Commonwealth and delivering prevention messaging to young people, the General Assembly expanded the Foundation’s mission and scope of work in 2009 to include reducing and preventing childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity can lead to serious, lifelong, and life-threatening health problems such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, problems that were once only seen in adult populations. Experts fear that due to the obesity epidemic, this may be the first generation of children to have shorter life expectancies than their parents. According to the America Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, Virginia currently ranks 31st in the nation for childhood obesity in 10- to 17-year-olds.

The most recent data from the 2021 Virginia Youth Survey shows:

• 31.7% of high school students are obese or overweight

• obesity prevalence among high school students in Virginia is 16.4%

The Virginia Youth Survey is conducted by the Virginia Department of Health and VFHY every other year and was last conducted in Fall 2021. Unfortunately, due to delays from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data from this survey was not made available until late Spring 2023. Data collection for the next Virginia Youth Survey will take place in Fall 2023.