Number of Overweight Kids in California Up 6% Since 2001
Twenty-eight out of every 100 school children in California were overweight in 2004, up 6% from 2001, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The increase occurred among all race, gender and age groups (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/25).
Researchers analyzed data from the Department of Education's 2004 Physical Fitness Test, which was given to fifth, seventh and ninth graders. The results were broken down by school districts, 71 of which had an increase in percentage of overweight children (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 8/25).
The study recommends that schools implement standards on fat, sugar and calories in foods available on campus. Moreover, schools should require that every student participates in supervised physical education programs.
The study also recommends that counties make it convenient for children to walk, bike and use wheelchairs and that advertisements for junk food be restricted. In addition, grocers should be offered financial incentives to provide healthier foods to low-income neighborhoods.
Harold Goldstein, executive director for CCPHP, said he supports a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) that would ban soft drinks in high schools. Soft drinks are not permitted in lower grades. Schwarzenegger also wants to restrict foods that can be sold on school campuses. The proposals are contained in two bills by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk) (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 8/25). The report is available online.