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