Chula Vista Schools Fight Obesity

Uploaded by KPBSSanDiego on 14.07.2011

Ready, Set, Go! One, two, three.
The kids at Chula Vista’s Kellogg Elementary School are just getting warmed up for all
the activities at their year-end fitness fair.
Look at your event pass, there are wonderful activities that you will participate in like
the basketball shoot, the football throw, hurdles, hula hoop, the jump rope.
Students and parents agree the Fair is a fun alternative to watching movies in class as
the school year winds to a close.
It’s really good that we get to get out and exercise instead of being cooped up in
the classroom.
We have all these games and they’re so absorbed on TV, now they’re actually playing outside,
so that’s awesome.
This is a great opportunity for them to be enjoying the beautiful weather we have in
San Diego.
Having fun is one goal of the afternoon. But the fair is part of a year-long effort to
make students healthier.
Bend down and touch your toes.
Chula Vista Elementary school District did a district-wide height and weight surveillance
in the fall and what we saw, there was a need to improve the physical fitness of our students
and that that is tied to greater achievement and learning and feeling good about being
at school – so this is important to us.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about seventeen percent
of kids between the ages of two and nineteen are obese.
But Chula Vista’s height and weight survey found things are even worse in their schools.
Nearly half of first grade girls and more than a third of first grade boys were overweight.
By the sixth grade more than half of all students were overweight and a quarter were considered
Across California students’ weight and height are only recorded in the fifth grade. After
its survey, Chula Vista is now the only district in the state to have this detailed a picture
of nearly all students, from preschool to sixth grade. The survey was Sharon Hillidge’s
We’ve been operating with assumptions and very limited information. So, having this
wealth of data really allows us to do a better job of knowing what we need to do.
The schools with the highest rates of obesity are located in what have come to be known
as food deserts. There are fast food restaurants nearby, but few grocery stores. There are
fewer parks. And the neighborhoods tend to have more violent crime. All of these factors
stand in the way of making healthy lifestyle choices. That’s why the district’s superintendent
is intent on working with student’s families.
We need to be very focused in our approach to ensure that we’re actually changing lifestyles
and the focuses has to be in those specific critical areas where we have higher incidence
of obesity.
The district is already making plans. They’ll overhaul food programs, bring in more local
produce, and give students healthier options. They’re looking to hire physical education
teachers for some schools and they want to start after-school farmers markets. Escobedo
says these efforts are critical.
So it’s going to be very interesting, because typically when you have systemic change, it
takes five to ten years. And we’re trying to accelerate that change because we’re
talking about the lives of kids. We’re talking about kids, who, when they’re 30 will have
either diabetes or heart attacks. We cannot wait, we have to do something now.
If Chula Vista can accelerate these changes, they hope their efforts - like Kellogg Elementary’s
fitness fair - can serve as a model for school districts across California and the country.
Hillidge’s campaign to tell parents, teachers and other staff about her findings has already
started to trickle down to the students at Kellogg. They know the fair is equal parts
fun and serious.
I know this for a fact: most kids is like obese and they don’t go out and be active,
so this really a good chance for all of us to be active and play.
Go, go, go. Good job.