Many California Children Overweight, Unfit, Study Finds
More than 25% of California children are overweight and about 40% are not physically fit, according to a statewide study of fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, the Los Angeles Times reports. Conducted by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the study reviewed physical fitness and body composition tests for 1.2 million children in public schools and then organized the data by Assembly district (Ornstein/Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times, 12/12). While data from the physical fitness tests was released last year, the new study isolates aerobic capacity and body weight as the best indicators of overall health (Severson, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12). According to the report, more boys are overweight than girls, but girls are typically less fit that boys. Also, while there were fewer older children who were overweight, they were less fit than younger children, the study found. Overall, 26.5% of California children are overweight, compared to a national average of about 15%. California uses a broader definition of overweight than the federal government, which means more children in the state meet the criteria for being overweight than federal statistics indicate, the Times reports. Los Angeles County has the highest proportion of overweight children in the state, according to the study. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said, "Clearly an emphasis needs to be placed on promoting healthy eating and physical activity in the L.A. Basin." Based on the finding, the organization is urging the state to enforce existing laws that mandate physical activity and to allocate funds to improve nutritional value of meals served in schools (Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The study is available online.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.