Background: Obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions in the United States and California. Thus, the California Department of Education began a series of steps to address the increase in obesity and decline in fitness in the 6.3 million public school children in California. We evaluated serial changes in obesity and fitness in California school children following implementation of prevention steps in all California public schools. Methods: The California Department of Education implemented changes in school nutrition and exercise programs aimed at reducing obesity and improving fitness. Outcome results were monitored by performing Physical Fitness Testing on 8.4 million students (5th, 7th, and 9th grade) for body composition, aerobic capacity, flexibility, and upper body, abdominal, and truncal strength using the Cochran-Armitage trend test and multivariable logistic regression models. Results: Overall fitness improved from 2003 to 2008. Serial changes in body composition, aerobic capacity, flexibility, and upper body, abdominal, and truncal strength improved or remained stable within school as students progressed from 5th to 7th to 9th grade. However, students entering 5th grade were more obese every year, and this early obesity was not reversible within the school programs. Conclusions: Following prevention measures within California public schools, obesity and fitness levels have stabilized. However, continued increases in early entrance (5th grade) obesity will require additional efforts directed at preschool and elementary students to completely stop and reverse this obesity epidemic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine