CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Chula Vista could hold the key to the nation's obesity problem. At least its schools might help other schools slim down.
San Diego County, county health, and Chula Vista Elementary School District officials worked together to create the "Body Mass Index Surveillance Kit."
The program is based on the health improvements adopted by the school district, which is the largest elementary-only school district in California.
Three years ago, Chula Vista checked 25,000 of its students. 40 percent were obese. That is a bad sign for the city, which already leads the county in diabetes cases.
CVESD immediately changed school menus, policies and added more physical activities.
Rice Elementary Principal Ernesto Villanueva told 10News it required a cultural change in the school and the community.
"We're talking about parents, students, staff," said Villanueva. "Before you know it, you don't even notice because they're now embedded in your day-to-day work."
It worked. More than 800 students went from obese to normal. That is the equivalent of an entire school.
Villanueva said the healthier lifestyle also improves a student's ability to learn and a teacher's ability to teach.
San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said Chula Vista's program was so successful the county funded the Surveillance Kit to share with other school districts.
"I would imagine that this is going to be something that'll be shared not only in San Diego County but throughout California, probably across the country," said Cox.