Why is This Important?
Children’s health impacts all aspects of their lives. Children who are physically fit and well nourished are happier and do better in school. Obese and overweight children are at greater risk of developing health complications, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, later in life. Good mental health in children is the foundation for the same during adult life.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where the incidence of childhood health problems continues to decrease over time.
How Are We Doing?
· The California Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is given to all students in the 5th, 7th, and 9th grades. The test is one way of measuring the health of children in a community. It measures fitness in six areas: upper body strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, and trunk extensor strength.
· In 2008-09, the last year for which data were available, 38 percent of 5th graders, 41 percent of 7th graders, and 36 percent of 9th graders in San Mateo County met the fitness standards in all six categories. San Mateo County children performed better than the statewide average at all three age levels.
· County children have shown significant progress in overall fitness at all age levels. Since 2000-01, the percentage of fifth graders meeting all six criteria has increased from 23 percent to 38 percent, seventh graders meeting all six fitness standards increased from 27 percent to 41 percent, and among ninth graders, only 16 percent met all six criteria in 2000-01 while today 36 percent do.
Obesity is a chronic illness that can impact children’s health in both the near- and long-term. The incidences of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all linked to unhealthy weight levels.
· The percentage of San Mateo County students with healthy weight has increased at all age levels since 2001.
· The most significant progress was among 5th graders; 63 percent of those students were at healthy weight in 2001 while 73 percent were at healthy weight in 2008. Despite overall progress in the county, there are large disparities in the incidence of obesity among different races. Among 9th grade students in 2008, 85 percent of Asian American students and 81 percent of White students were at a healthy weight. At the same grade level, only 65 percent of Hispanic students and 62 percent of African American students were at a healthy weight.