Nutrition & Physical Activity

Good nutrition and physical activity are essential to health and well being, as well as healthy growth and development. Poor nutritional choices and physical inactivity are associated with 4 of the 10 leading causes of death: coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

In addition, poor nutritional choices and physical inactivity lead to weight management issues. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including: hypertension, high total cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).

By promoting good nutritional choices and physical activity among county residents, we can have a dramatic effect on the overall health and well being of our county residents.

Weight Management
Overall 67.9% of the respondents to the Burlington County Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were classified as being either overweight or obese.

In addition, being overweight was ranked as the 3rd highest risky behavior by respondents to the Burlington County Community Themes and Strengths Survey.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for people. The chart below is for adults:
BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 Normal
25.0 - 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

Calculate your BMI.
Body Mass Index Chart
Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Burlington County residents. High blood pressure, diabetes and weight management all contribute to cardiovascular disease. Promoting good nutritional choices and increased physical activity can lead to a decrease in high blood pressure and diabetes.

Blood Pressure
Over 39% of the respondents to the Burlington County BRFSS survey reported that they had been told by a doctor that they had high blood pressure. Of that number, 82% are currently taking medication for high blood pressure.
Woman checking a man's blood pressure
Cardiovascular Health in Burlignton County Chart
Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in Burlington County. Over 14% of the respondents reported they had diabetes. This was much higher than the State of New Jersey and the entire United States, where only 9% reported they had been told they have diabetes.

Goals & Objectives
  • Overall Goal: Reduce the prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes through improved nutrition and increased physical activity
  • Outcome Objectives / Indicators
    • Increase the percentage of residents participating in physical activity at or above the recommended level
    • Increase the percentage of residents consuming the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables
    • Increase the percentage of residents consuming foods with total fat content at or below the recommended level
    • Increase the percentage of residents drinking the recommended daily intake of water (6-8 servings)
    • Increase the percentage of residents consuming low sugar and low salt foods
  • Impact Objectives
    • Increase health screening opportunities for at risk groups
    • Increase the availability of nutrition and exercise programs to low income families
    • Increase the percentage of residents diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity participating in nutritional therapy or counseling
    • Increase the number of exercise programs designed for the disabled and seniors
    • Increase the number of stress management programs available to at risk groups
    • Increase the number of children performing at or above the 50th percentile in the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test
Risk Factors
  • African-American, American Indian, Alaskan Native or Hispanic
  • Childhood obesity
  • Physical or functional disability
  • Poverty, low income
  • Uninsured or under-insured
  • Unmanaged stress
Potential Barriers
  • Attitudes towards healthy eating, body image and health risk
  • Inadequate or no insurance
  • Lack of knowledge and skill
  • Lack of money
  • Time constraints
Display of fruit during National Nutrition Month 2003
Strategies & Resources Available
Suggested Interventions
Advocate for healthy food choices in restaurants, schools, senior programs and other facilities or programs providing food
  • Offer specialized training for food managers (to include portion sizes)
  • Coordinate nutrition education delivery to senior clubs and groups
  • Encourage consumption of local foods and improve accessibility
  • Increase nutrition education of young parents
Coordination of local townships, physician offices, faith based organizations, schools and media to increase awareness and knowledge of the importance of nutrition and physical activity
  • Provide nutrition and fitness education through schools
  • Emphasize family activities
  • Increase parent awareness of community activities
  • Support school partnerships with physical fitness funding programs and organizations
  • Increase accessibility and opportunities for parents and adults for improving physical fitness and motivation
  • Develop health related contests and competitions between municipalities
  • Use Burlington County Times or other media to develop a weekly segment on healthy meals and physical activity
  • Support health fairs for every municipality
  • Promote winter activities (i.e., recreation departments, ice skating clubs)
  • Use grocery receipts to print recipes and nutrition and fitness websites
  • Involve churches through education and healthy cooking demonstration
Advocate for environments conducive to physical activity (i.e. walking trails, parks, biking and canoe trails)

Resources Available
  • Burlington County Health Department
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Food Program
  • Rutgers Cooperative Food Extension Program
  • Burlington County Board of Social Services
  • New Jersey Family Care Insurance Program
  • Southern Jersey Family Medical Center
  • Family Y of Burlington County
  • Burlington County Office on Aging
  • Burlington County Office on Housing and Community Development
  • Burlington County Rental Assistance Program
  • Burlington County Community Action Program
  • County Farmer Markets
  • Burlington County Parks