Indicator: Proportion of students (children in grades five, seven, and nine) who are obese or overweight.
Description: California Education Code Section 60800 requires Local Educational Agencies to administer the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) annually to students in grades five, seven, and nine. The designated PFT is the FITNESSGRAM®. A portion of the test evaluates whether children score above the “Healthy Fitness Zone” on the body composition area (categorized as “Needs Improvement” or “Needs Improvement – High Risk”). Since 2014, a large majority of California schools have used body mass index (BMI) to partially measure body composition, which aligns with standards from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but some schools may use alternative methods such as skinfold or bioelectrical impedance analysis. BMI is calculated as weight (kg) / [height (m)]2 or weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703 where 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or higher is obese. These guidelines are calculated from the average height, and weight for a child’s sex and age (according to the CDC Growth Charts found at https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/clinical_charts.htm), where a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles is considered overweight, and at or above the 95th percentile on CDC growth charts refers to being obese. A body composition category is assigned after consideration of muscle mass as well.3
Data Limitations: The test is only administered to children in public schools; it is unknown if the type of school (public, non-public) could affect the test scores. The indicator is a conservative estimate of body composition in children attending public schools since, in most cases, muscle mass, is not measured. Students who are physically unable to take the entire test battery are given as much of the test as conditions permit; their results are included in the data files. Students that repeat a grade must retake the exam. Frequently asked questions about the test can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/pf. Some children might attend schools outside the boundaries of the school district where they reside. The FITNESSGRAM® criterion-referenced standards have changed in the years 2005, 2010, and 2013. Data collected in the following year to the change is affected and comparisons over time must be done with caution. The “Multiple” race/ethnicity group is only available starting in 2010-2011.
Indicator Source: California Department of Education (CDE) Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) Program research files, https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/pf/pftresearch.asp
Indicator Calculation Methodology:
Numerator: number of children categorized as “Needs Improvement” or “Needs Improvement – High Risk” in the body composition area; Denominator: number of children tested; Percent: numerator/denominator*100 (Note that counts of 10 or fewer have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.)
Data Collection Methodology: Information from: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/pf/. “The State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM® as the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) for students in California public schools. The FITNESSGRAM® is a comprehensive, health-related physical fitness battery developed by The Cooper Institute. The primary goal of the FITNESSGRAM® is to assist students in establishing lifetime habits of regular physical activity. Public school students in grades five, seven, and nine are required to take the PFT, whether or not they are enrolled in a physical education class or participate in a block schedule. These students include those enrolled in local educational agencies (LEAs) such as elementary, high, and unified school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. LEAs must also test all students in alternate programs, including, but not limited to, continuation schools, independent study, community day schools, county community schools, and nonpublic schools. Students who are physically unable to take the entire test battery are to be given as much of the test as his or her condition will permit. (Education Code (EC) Section 60800 and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 1041).”
Geographic Granularity: School District
Reporting Cycle: Annual
Reporting Lag: One school year, which spans two calendar years
Indicator Source Changes: The indicator source has not changed but modifications to the FITNESSGRAM® criterion-referenced standards were implemented in the years 2005, 2010, and 2013. Data collected in the following year to the change is affected and comparisons over time must be done with caution