The Epidemiology Unit is involved in the tracking of childhood overweight in Los Angeles County in order to understand the importance of this condition and to identify communities at higher risk.
One source of data that we use is the California Physical Fitness Testing Program, administered by the California Department of Education (CDE). All public schools in California are required to administer
it annually to students in grades 5, 7, and 9 a battery of physical fitness tests developed by
The Cooper Institute. Results are aggregated and reported to CDE. One of the six tests administered by schools is a test of body composition, or a measure of the proportion of body fat in the tested child. Most commonly, body composition is estimated by a child’s measured height and weight, but schools may choose to use other selected methods. By comparing the measurement to a scientifically validated reference table, each child is determined to be within or outside of the “healthy fitness zone” (HFZ), which is the level of fitness associated with healthy outcomes.
Results for physical fitness testing have been
collected during the spring season from 1999-2008. The percentage of students within or outside of the HFZ by school, school district, or county can be found at the CDE website by using the link below:
Results by district of elected officials can be found at the California Center for Public Health Advocacy website by using the link below:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines childhood overweight as a body mass index (BMI) for age and sex at or above the 95th percentile of CDC growth charts (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/index.htm). BMI is calculated from a child’s height and weight. For public health purposes, the Epidemiology Unit has analyzed the California Physical Fitness Testing data to determine the prevalence of childhood overweight in Los Angeles County, by using the CDC definition.
The Epidemiology Unit has analyzed the physical fitness data to understand the distribution of childhood overweight in Los Angeles County. Results of some of theses analyses are available for download as follows:
For purposes, such as community planning and grant applications, the CDE and CCPHA websites provide easily accessible information on physical fitness among public school children. For specialized analyses and comparison of countywide prevalence with national figures, the Epidemiology Unit uses the CDC definition of childhood overweight.
Below are some additional resources regarding childhood overweight and physical activity:
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
U.S. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
The Los Angeles County DPH Physical Activity,
Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, and Nutrition Programs may have further information and resources (http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov).