Wellness initiatives credited with obesity rate decrease

Five percent fewer students overweight or obsese compared to 2012 survey.

March 21—Efforts to improve student health in Chula Vista (Calif.) elementary schools appear to be paying off. In 2010, a districtwide survey of students' height and weight found that 39.8 percent were overweight or obese.

Since then, the Chula Vista Elementary School District has revamped its wellness policy, taking steps that include promoting gym time, ending unhealthy treats during the school day and removing chocolate milk from the lunch menu.

The changes paid off. Five percent fewer Rice students were overweight or obese when the second survey was conducted this year. But Evita Sawyers, a Rice parent and PTA member, said trading popsicle and nacho fundraisers for fruit and vegetable boxes wasn't initially popular. When the district began its efforts, health professionals told Superintendent Francisco Escobedo not to expect instant results.