At urban Sacramento schools, an abundance of students at unhealthy weights

By Phillip Reese -

Every year, students in schools across the state take a physical fitness exam. That exam measures, among other things, the body composition of students in fifth, seventh, and ninth grades. Based on body mass index and percentage of fat in students' bodies, the measure classifies students as either healthy, in need of improvement and or at health risk.

In Sacramento County, about one-fifth of students were classified last year as needing improvement and another one-sixth were classified as health risk. "Needing improvement" roughly correlates to overweight while "health risk" roughly correlates to obesity.

Students in the region's wealthy schools were far more likely to have a healthy body composition than students at schools in poorer areas.

At 54 local schools, almost all located in poorer areas, at last half of students were overweight or obese.

Low-income neighborhoods often lack farmer’s markets and full-service grocery stores. Instead, residents are sometimes left to shop at corner markets with few healthy alternatives. Even in residents of low-income areas can find healthy food, it’s often more expensive than highly-processed food.

This map shows the proportion of fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students at each school with an unhealthy body composition.

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