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Childhood Obesity

Variable Definitions:
Students in the Healthy Fitness Zone: The percentage of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students not within the “Healthy Fitness Zone” of the Body Mass Index portion of the FitnessGram test

California Department of Education (CDE) Ed-Data/Data Quest

Years Available:
2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18

Why are these variables important to measure?

Students in the Healthy Fitness Zone

The FitnessGram Healthy Fitness Zone is a program designed by The Cooper Institute to improve school physical education programs and children’s health. The California State Board of Education adopted the FitnessGram as a measure of student health in 1996. Local educational agencies administer the test to 5th, 7th and 9th grade students who are evaluated on their aerobic capacity, strength, body composition, and flexibility. Those students found to be within the Healthy Fitness Zone are considered to have sufficient fitness for good health.

While a student who is not within the Healthy Fitness Zone is not necessarily obese, many such students are considered to be at risk for having future health problems. Rates of childhood obesity have tripled in the United States since the 1970s, putting a higher percentage of the youth population at risk for future chronic health issues.

On the neighborhood level, low rates of students within the Healthy Fitness Zone may be an indication that local schools need to invest more resources in nutrition and physical education programs, or that more access to healthful food is needed in the neighborhood.


Division of Population Health. “Childhood obesity facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 January 2018. Link

“FITNESSGRAM: Healthy fitness zone charts.” California Department of Education, 19 January 2017. Link

“Physical fitness testing (PFT).” California Department of Education, 14 November 2017. Link

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