The obesity rate for children in Mission Viejo is much lower than the state’s and county’s rate, according to a first-time study released by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) on Thursday.
According to the study, which analyzed obesity rates of children in 250 California cities, Mission Viejo is 25.1%, compared to the state’s rate of 38% and Orange County’s rate of 33.3%. Overall, Mission Viejo placed in the top 15 percent in the state for lowest obesity rates. The study is based on the 2010 state-mandated Physical Fitness Test, which measured height and weight (est. BMI) for more than one million school children in grades 5, 7, and 9.
“Although the statistics show Mission Viejo to be doing well when compared to other California cities, there is always room for improvement because we are capable of that,” said Olympian Brian Goodell, a lifelong resident. “Mission Viejo is a community that has been built on its sports and recreational opportunities, so being healthy is an important part of our community’s culture and identity.”
The City of Mission Viejo has long made the issue of childhood obesity a priority in its Recreation and Community Services programming. When the Sierra Recreation and Fitness Center was renovated in 2005, a line of fitness equipment was installed specifically designed to accommodate children. At the same time, the minimum age to use exercise equipment was lowered at the Montanoso and Sierra Recreation and Fitness Centers (provided a parent/guardian accompanies a child), and exercise classes targeted at children have been introduced. Two years ago, outdoor fitness equipment was installed at Oso Viejo Park, and last year, the City became a Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) community to reinforce its commitment to health and wellness. Part of that effort included launching a new Farmers Market, which boasts fresh produce and fare every Friday at the Civic Center. As a part of the HEAL initiative, the City is continuing to look for ways to partner with local health and wellness agencies to introduce even more programs and services that encourage healthy eating, physical fitness and education among families and youth.
The CCPHA report is available at http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/research_overweight2010.html.