All Students Childhood Obesity: The percentage of all 5th, 7th and 9th grade students not within the “Healthy Fitness Zone” of the Body Mass Index portion of the FitnessGram test
5th Grade Childhood Obesity: The percentage of 5th grade students not within the “Healthy Fitness Zone” of the Body Mass Index portion of the FitnessGram test
7th Grade Childhood Obesity: The percentage of 7th grade students not within the “Healthy Fitness Zone” of the Body Mass Index portion of the FitnessGram test
9th Grade Childhood Obesity: The percentage of 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
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
*The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in statewide physical school closures in February/March 2020 followed by the widespread implementation of distance learning during the 2020–21 academic year. The California Department of Education (CDE) recommends caution when comparing discipline data across academic years. In addition, the physical fitness test was suspended for school years 2019–2020 and 2020–2021, resulting in no data for those years.
The original data comes at the school level. Our team geocoded the school locations to generate X/Y coordinates, then spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts.
Why are these variables important to measure?
Students Not 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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