New data shows childhood obesity rates persisting throughout the state, and presents troubling figures on the local level—though the problem does not appear to be as severe in the South Bay as it is in the rest of Los Angeles County.
Locally, Manhattan Beach is ranked lowest in Los Angeles County, with only 11.3 percent of its students obese. Torrance and Rancho Palos Verdes are also in the bottom 15, with 26.9 percent and 29.1 percent of students obese, respectively.
Nevertheless, Inglewood and Lomita, with respective rates of 47.8 percent and 44 percent obese, were both above the county average.
Students in Hermosa Beach were not included in the study because the city has a population of less than 20,000. Redondo Beach, though large enough, apparently did not meet the required reporting threshold for the Department of Education's Physical Fitness Tests.
The first of its kind study, conducted jointly by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, breaks down the statistics city by city. It shows 41.6 percent of children in the county are overweight or obese. The figure for California is 38 percent.
Overweight and Obesity among Children by California City–2010 analyzes more than 250 California cities, finding “shocking discrepancies based on locale,” according to the report.
The cities studied showed a range from nearly 1 in 10 children being overweight or obese on the low end, to more than half of children falling into the category on the high end.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study used data from the California Department of Education’s 2010 Physical Fitness Tests to examine geographical variation in overweight and obesity among fifth, seventh, and ninth grade school children.
Researchers analyzed 55 cities in the county, and found Manhattan Beach to have the lowest rate at 11.3 percent, and Huntington Park to be the poorest performer with 53 percent.
Policy recommendations urge state and local leaders to improve conditions in schools and communities to help make healthy lifestyle choices easier for children and their parents.
Suggestions include removing high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods and beverages from school districts, opening school recreational facilities after hours for community use, and making streets and roadways more accessible for those who walk, bike and use wheelchairs.
To read the findings and policy recommendations, as well as see how all cities ranked, click here.