Obesity rate in Redondo kids drops to lowest since 2007

On Beach Cities Volunteer Day Aug. 9, students joined the crew at Madison Elementary School in Redondo Beach, showing squash harvested in the school garden. Photo courtesy Beach Cities Health District 

by Garth Meyer

Childhood obesity rates for Redondo Beach elementary school students have dropped to their lowest point in 16 years, according to a new report by Beach Cities Health District (BCHD). 

Obesity among kindergarten, first, third and fifth grade students is now 5.9 percent for Redondo Beach Unified School District, after first registering at 20 percent in 2007.

BCHD has partnered with the schools on health programs since then, including yearly Body Mass Index assessments.

The obesity numbers saw a slight rise from 2019-2021, attributed to the pandemic. Overall, BMI index for tracked elementary-school kids has declined 71 percent since the beginning of the BCHD program. 

Statewide, data from the 2019 California Department of Education physical fitness testing shows that 41 percent of California fifth graders are obese, compared to 46 percent in Los Angeles County. 

The BCHD’s “LiveWell Kids,” a local school well-being program developed for kindergarten through fifth grade, includes nutrition and garden education. 

“Students learn about planting, harvesting and nutritious foods, with an emphasis on how these foods fuel their body to be the best version of themselves, both physically and mentally,” said Tom Bakaly, Beach Cities Health District CEO. “It’s vital that we’re setting up our youth with the tools needed to live a healthy life from a young age.” 

In context, a case study on recent trends in childhood obesity, co-authored by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, found that while other factors may contribute to the decline in obesity, such as policy changes in school lunch programs and increased overall awareness and education surrounding childhood obesity, this decline is correlated to healthy school programs, such as LiveWell Kids and School Wellness Councils. 

“Thank you to the Beach Cities Health District, RBUSD staff, parents, volunteers and students for making the LiveWell Kids program a success,” said Nicole Wesley, RBUSD Superintendent. “LiveWell Kids, in conjunction with other physical activity, mental health and substance use prevention programs, that BCHD supports, allow us to focus on the whole child, supporting their overall health and well-being.”

Beach Cities Health District was named the 2021 “Healthcare District of the Year” by the Association of California Healthcare Districts. Its focus on preventive health serves Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, after its original establishment in 1955 as a public agency to build the former “South Bay Hospital.” ER


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