Childhood Obesity, Related Health Problems Increase in Three Counties, Study Finds
The incidence of childhood obesity and related health problems is increasing in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, according to a study released Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study, conducted by the Gold Coast Collaborative, a coalition of educators and health professionals, reported that more than 25% of area fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students were overweight. In addition, the study indicated that about 33% of students could not pass basic fitness tests. The study, titled "A Health Crisis in Paradise," said that the coastal region mirrored the national trend toward less nutrition education in schools, reduced amounts of physical activity and increased obesity rates. The collaborative recommended that elected officials, educators and others hold forums in 2004 to identify methods to decrease obesity, eliminate junk food and soft drinks on local schools campuses and develop policies that promote physical education. Sandy VanHouten, a director of child nutrition services for the Ventura Unified School District, said that the "statistics we compiled were a little alarming," adding, "The good news is that we are really working on improving the health of our children. It's definitely a challenge to look at what we are doing and how we are doing it" (Alvarez, Los Angeles Times, 9/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.