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While California Kids Slim Down, Bay Area Kids Bulk Up

While California Kids Slim Down, Bay Area Kids Bulk Up

Picture of Katharine Mieszkowski

California kids are slightly less likely to be overweight than they were five years ago.

That's according to a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which found that the percentage of fifth, seventh and ninth graders in the state who were overweight declined by 1.1. percent between 2005 and 2010. About 38 percent of the 1.2 million children studied were overweight.

The study is part of a growing body of evidence that the childhood obesity epidemic in California has peaked. It now appears to be leveling off.

Yet, the statewide averages mask many regional difference. In many counties around the state, during the same period more kids became overweight. "Children's health is still at risk in a significant number of counties, Susan Babey, senior research scientist at the center, said in a statement. "We found that 31 of California's 58 counties experience an increase in childhood overweight over the five year period from 2005 to 2010."

In much of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I report for The Bay Citizen, more kids are becoming overweight, the researchers found. Yet, children in most Bay Area counties were significantly less likely to be overweight than their peers around the state.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study relied upon data from the state's annual physical fitness test. As a health reporting fellow, I plan to explore the causes behind those numbers in the Bay Area. I'm especially intrigued to investigate the role that local schools play in fostering the physical fitness of their students, as well as how the state's budget crisis is impacting p.e. and recess.

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