New California Physical Fitness Test scores released this week show Lodi-area students dropping in some key measured areas of body composition and aerobic capacity.
Across the state, fewer than a third of students posted healthy scores in all six areas of the 2011 Physical Fitness Test. In Galt the percentage was 29 percent while 28 percent of Lodi Unified School District students did.
“Today’s results are clear: When only 31 percent of children are physically fit, that’s a public health challenge we can’t wait to address,” state Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a prepared statement.
The test was administered to 1.34 million California students representing 93 percent of pupils enrolled in fifth, seventh and ninth grades. In Galt, 1,513 students took the test, while 6,199 Lodi Unified students participated.
It uses a “Healthy Fitness Zone” to indicate if the student’s level of fitness is sufficient for good health.
To score in the HFZ, the test requires that a 5-foot 6-inch, 150-pound, 15-year-old ninth grade male run a mile within nine minutes, perform at least 16 push-ups and do at least 24 curl-ups.
While aerobic capacity is an indicator of physical fitness, body composition is perhaps the most important indicator of who will develop future health problems.
Body composition — more commonly known as Body Mass Index — is an area where Galt students have dropped precipitously within just one year.
The city’s ninth-grader results show drops of 16 percent from 2010 to 2011 in body composition testing, 20 percent for fifth-graders, and 12 percent for seventh-graders.
In Lodi Unified, similar figures show an average 16 percent drop in body composition scores across the three grades. When comparing the three grade levels, fifth-graders saw the largest dip with a nearly 19 percent decline from 2010.
In aerobic capacity, numbers also slipped, although not as drastically.
In the past, the state has divided physical fitness test results into two categories: reaching the HFZ or not reaching it.
This year, the state added a new category for those who scored poorly in aerobic capacity and body composition: “Needs improvement — high risk.” About 34 percent of California fifth-graders, 30 percent of seventh-graders and 25 percent of ninth-graders fell into this category in body composition, indicating their fitness levels are not sufficient for good health.
Locally, the numbers break down this way:
- In Galt, 38 percent of fifth-graders fall into the high risk category in body composition, while only 30 percent of seventh-graders do.
- At the high school level, ninth-graders fared better with only 27 percent in that category.
- Lodi Unified also struggled with body composition; 35 percent of fifth-graders need improvement. About 31 percent and 28 percent of seventhand ninth-graders, respectively, fall in that threshhold.
But some schools, such as Heritage Primary, are working to change those statistics. The school’s running club has grown over the years.
Principal Maria Cervantes said she can tell the difference between her students who have run regularly since kindergarten and those who have not.
“They see the mile run and think, ‘No problem, I can do that,’” she said. Cervantes added that these results are visible over years of good habits.
She recognizes the challenges parents face in providing food for their children.
“When you see that handsome face or that beautiful face asking for spicy Cheetos, it can be hard to say no,” she said. “We continue to support and educate parents in providing healthy snacks and pulling away from processed foods.”
To encourage fitness and healthy eating, Torlakson has launched a Team California for Healthy Kids campaign that includes online resources to help schools or community organizations promote physical activities and eating fruits and vegetables, and provide access to drinking water.
The 2011 Physical Fitness Test results for local schools, school districts, counties and the state are available on the California Department of Education website.
Reporter Sara Jane Pohlman contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.