New data shows childhood obesity rates persisting throughout the state, and presents troubling figures on the local level.
San Diego is ranked ninth highest in San Diego County with 33.5 percent of its children falling into the overweight or obese category. The city showed a slightly lower rate of childhood obesity than the county, and about 5 percent less than the state.
The first of its kind study, conducted jointly by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, breaks down the statistic city by city. It shows 34.5 percent of children in the county are overweight or obese. The figure for California is 38 percent.
Overweight and Obesity among Children by California City–2010 analyzes more than 250 California cities, finding “shocking discrepancies based on locale,” according to the report.
The cities studied showed a range from nearly 1 in 10 children being overweight or obese on the low end, to more than half of children falling into the category on the high end.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study used data from the California Department of Education’s 2010 Physical Fitness Tests to examine geographical variation in overweight and obesity among 5th, 7th, and 9th grade school children.
Researchers analyzed 13 cities in the county, and found Carlsbad to have the lowest range at 16.8 percent, and National City to be the poorest performer with 50 percent.
Ranked from highest to lowest, the local statistics are:
- National City, 50 percent
- Lemon Grove 46.3 percent
- Imperial Beach, 39.8 percent
- Escondido, 38.9 percent
- Vista, 38.7 percent
- El Cajon, 38.1 percent
- Chula Vista, 37.9 percent
- La Mesa, 36.9 percent
- San Diego, 33.5 percent
- San Marcos, 31.9 percent
- Poway, 26.1 percent
- Encinitas, 18.5 percent
- Carlsbad, 16.8 percent
Policy recommendations urge state and local leaders to improve conditions in schools and communities to help make healthy lifestyle choices easier for children and their parents.
Suggestions include removing high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods and beverages from school districts, opening school recreational facilities after hours for community use, and making streets and roadways more accessible for those who walk, bike and use wheelchairs.
To read the findings and policy recommendations, as well as see how all cities ranked, click here.