Fitness, nutrition slow obesity rates

UC Davis study credits statewide nutrition and fitness standards

California’s childhood obesity rates—on the rise for decades—are showing signs of slowing, according to a UC Davis study.

The report, “Obesity and Physical Fitness in California School Children,” published in the American Heart Journal, found that the obesity rate climbed by only 0.33 percent per year between 2003 and 2008, while earlier studies had shown the rate increasing somewhere between 0.8 and 1.7 percent each year, according to EdSource. The study analyzed records of 6.3 million fifth-, seventh-, and ninth-graders.

The study’s authors credited the improvement to fitness and nutritional standards implemented in 1999 that require an average of 20 minutes of exercise per day for K-6 students and 40 minutes for seventh- through 12th-graders, plus a ban on candy bars and soda in school vending machines.