Chula Vista Elementary School District cuts fat -- literally

Study shows decrease in obesity among students

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The Chula Vista Elementary School District's plan to help reduce obesity among its students is working despite little funding put into the initiative.

The district announced an updated obesity study for the students at its 44 schools. In 2010, 40 percent of those students were either overweight or obese. The same study performed in 2012 reveals a decrease to 36.8 percent.

District officials credited a very simple plan -- cut out bad food, increase good food and add more exercise.

"I believe that we are definitely on the right track," said Wolf Canyon Elementary School Principal Debra McLaren.

They weren't on track in 2010 when cupcakes were regularly brought to classes on birthdays and sugar-riddled milks were available in chocolate or strawberry flavors.

"These children, by the age of 30, will have either diabetes or heart attacks," said CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D.

"The adults were going to outlive their children, so that became a real big concern," said McLaren.

The district decided to change the rules. Exercise during school hours increased, the cafeteria sold healthier meals and the ever-popular cupcakes-from-home were outlawed.

"Cupcakes are nice, but kids don't need cupcakes because they're going to get cake on the birthday at home," said Jessica Speer, who has two kids that attend Wolf Canyon Elementary.

CVESD accomplished it without completely overhauling anything. Escobedo estimated the district spent no more than $30,000 buying healthier foods. Encouraging students and families to exercise more merely took effort and communication.

The plan decreased the school population's obesity levels 3.2 percent. That figure is more impressive when you consider it means 800 students went from being obese to healthy.

"It's an entire school," said Escobedo. "We're creating smart kids, but I want them to live longer, too,"

The district's efforts have gained enough attention that they will be receiving grant funding to offset any future costs.

Print this article Back to Top