The obesity rate among some San Luis Obispo County youths dropped from 2005 to 2010, a new study says.
Still, 32.1 percent of the county’s youths were overweight or obese in 2010, compared with 33.5 percent in 2005, according to a study being released today by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
While the occurrence of overweight and obesity rates over the five-year time frame declined in 26 of California’s 58 counties, “it increased in more than half of the counties during this time,” the study says.
Overall, more than one-third — 38 percent — of the state’s students tested were overweight or obese in 2010, down 1.1 percent, the study says.
The data is based on height and weight measurements taken from the Department of Education’s California Physical Fitness Tests given annually to public school students in fifth, seventh and ninth grades statewide.
Obesity continues to be of major concern in the state, the study says. Being overweight is associated with an increased risk for high cholesterol and high blood pressure — indicators of cardiovascular disease — and other disorders.
Statewide, the study found, about 36 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds and 34 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds were considered to be overweight or obese. Among them, 20 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds and 18 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds were considered to be obese.
In San Luis Obispo County, new offerings of salads or low-fat foods served at schools over the past five years have helped students make healthier choices, officials say.
County schools Superintendent Julian Crocker thinks lifestyle changes are most effective when they come from advertising and food industries and the home — not just school.
Educational programs can also help, he added, and they vary countywide. At Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel, lessons on planting and cooking leafy greens from a student garden help students bring home tips and ideas to promote healthy living with their families.
San Luis Obispo County’s lifestyle among parents and kids also “tends to be supportive of healthy activity for children and young people,” Crocker said.