San Diego is another area hard hit by the childhood obesity epidemic to realize a reduction or flattening of prevalence or trajectory. Joining New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, recently released data shows the prevalence among San Diego’s 5th-7th-9th grade students dropped 3.7% over a 5-year span.
A primary take-away is the common strategy that was implemented to intervene. Each of these areas utilized a robust, public-private umbrella approach that lead to wide-scale changes in policy and procedure that impacted both sides of energy balance.
School-based physical education and physical activity programming within after-school and at the community level was augmented, as well, the nutritional value of school lunch improved, soda was banned from school campuses and fruit juice no longer replaces milk.
Interestingly, umbrella intervention parallels the tack of the research community’s approach. Initial efforts focused on determining the cause, but as more data was analyzed a causality web emerged.
While energy balance remains the forerunning culprit, it’s now accepted that contributory circumstances exist and isolating the innumerable variables may prove unlikely. In general, the research community is more about untangling the contributors to deepen our understanding of the condition and inform effective mitigation.
Interventionists now understand programming needs to be broad-based so to best circumvent the insidiousness of the condition, and these results indicate that umbrella intervention does have lifestyle impact on children and youth: augmented before-and after-school programming offers structured physical activity, teachers encourage movement during class with short energy breaks, augmented physical education offers quality, developmentally-appropriate instruction that motivates sustained participation, improved school lunch offers nutritionally-sound choices, community-based activity programs are available with reduced participation barriers, and parent education provides parents with tools to make sound food purchase decisions and prepare nutritionally-rich food.