31 Percent of Santa Cruz Children Are Obese

A new study puts Santa Cruz children in the middle of the California pack and recommends more focus on fitness and less on fatty foods.


About 31 percent of Santa Cruz children are obese, according to a first time study of childhood obesity by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

Using data from 2010 fitness tests of 5th, 7th and 9th graders in 250 cities with over 20,000 people, the study found that 38 percent of kids are overweight with a huge discrepancy across the state from 11 percent in Manhattan Beach to 53 percent in Huntington Park.

Santa Cruz County reflected the statewide average, with 37.9 percent of its children overweight. While Santa Cruz was at 31 percent, Watsonville was significantly higher at 49.3 percent.

To see all the cities in the report, click here.

The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has some suggestions for how to get the problem under control.

  • Require physical fitness testing.
  • Stop selling high fat, high sugar and high calorie food in schools.
  • Stop selling sweetened beverages, including sports drinks, in schools and tax them.
  • Give financial incentives for healthy foods, farmers markets and bicycling to school.
  • Require adequate physical education classes in schools.
  • Make school recreational fields accessible off hours.
  • Stop advertising unhealthy foods to children.
  • Make sure there are safe paths and lanes to bike to school.
  • Make sure that government considers health goals in land use decisions.


The report says that obesity and its health consequences cost California $21 billion a year, the highest in the nation and adds that in the past 30 years obesity has increased three times among students 12-19 years old and four times among those between 6-11.

It also breaks down obesity by race, finding that it affects:

  • 46 percent of Latinos
  • 39.3 percent of African Americans
  • 32.7 percent of Pacific Islanders
  • 26.9 percent of whites
  • 23.1 percent of Asians
Daniel Wootan June 12, 2012 at 03:32 PM
When you said the county had a higher percentage than the city, it was clear what you would say next--that Watsonville is heavily involved in that discrepancy. High unemployment, lower incomes for those with jobs and larger families are a brutal combination that have South County kids right in low quality food producers' cross hairs.
Brian June 13, 2012 at 04:24 AM
such as the dollar tree?
Daniel Wootan June 13, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Oscar Meyer, Pepsi, Chef Boyardee, Kraft...oh the list is endless. With any luck the corporate world will speed up the consolidation of wealth and we won't have as many names to avoid in the grocery aisle. Pepsi would love if it were just their products.
JoMont June 13, 2012 at 05:37 PM
It starts in the home indeed. Produce is far cheaper than processed food, but the parents are as large or larger than the children. They are not willing to give up their addiction to junk food and large portions of the rest. Closer scrutiny of what they are sending their kids to school with would be a start. $$ often spent at the nearby mini-mart on red hot cheetos. Check your kids backpacks, pack their lunches and leave the $$ at home to pay for entertainment, trips to parks and rec activities. Parents can make it happen, but they too have to be an example. No more do as I say not as I do will make for healthy children.
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