An Epidemic

Overweight and Unfit Children in California Legislative Districts
(2002 and 2003)
Study Documents

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT POLICY BRIEF (2002)
A summary of the findings of the study by Assembly District and policy recommendations.

SENATE DISTRICT POLICY BRIEF (2003)
A summary of the findings of the study by Senate District and policy recommendations.

FULL POLICY REPORT
A report providing background information regarding childhood overweight and physical inactivity, as well as a description of research methods, findings, and policy recommendations

OVERVIEW. Children in California are overweight and physically inactive at epidemic levels, dooming them to serious health problems now and in the future and saddling the state's economy with exorbitant and preventable long-term costs.

THE STUDY. To understand the extent of this epidemic among California's children, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy looked at data on the physical fitness levels of California children. We did this by analyzing data from the California Department of Education's 2001 California Physical Fitness Test and presenting it in a unique way—by Assembly and Senate district. These analyses were reported in two policy briefs: An Epidemic: Overweight and Unfit Children in California Assembly Districts (2002) and An Epidemic: Overweight and Unfit Children in California Senate Districts (2003).[Link to the policy briefs] Those reports provide policy makers with a clear picture of childhood fitness among their constituents and give all Californians a clear picture of childhood fitness in their communities. For more information, please see our Press Release and Press Kit from the release of Assembly district data. You may also read the full report here.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT FINDINGS. The studies found high rates of overweight and unfit children in all 80 assembly districts and all 40 senate districts in California. Even districts with the lowest rates of overweight and unfit children still had too many children in those categories. (Unfit describes children whose aerobic capacity score was below the Healthy Fitness zone, which is a FITNESSGRAM scoring term. FITNESSGRAM is the assessment protocol used by the California Department of Education to measure physical fitness. )

Click on the links below for a summary of rates for all legislative districts:

  • Assembly: Rates for all 80 assembly districts.
  • Senate: Rates for all 40 senate districts.

Fact sheets on each assembly and senate district, which include data by gender, age and ethnicity, are available by clicking on the appropriate box in the Study Documents table.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS. The California Center for Public Health Advocacy called on policy makers throughout the state to take clear and direct actions (read all recommendations) to address this serious situation, including the following:

  • SB 19 nutritional standards should be implemented in all schools (K-12).
  • State law mandating physical education for California's public school students should be enforced.
  • Legislative hearings should be held to examine the impact that advertising to children has on the overweight epidemic.

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Support for this project was provided by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation®, Princeton, New Jersey