Major Survey Tracks Children's and Teens Diets and Physical Activity in California

Examining environmental influences on child dietary and physical activity behaviors

Field of Work: Childhood Obesity

Problem Synopsis: Since the late 1960's, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than four-fold among children ages 6 to 11. In 2011, nearly a third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. That's more than 23 million kids and teenagers.

Synopsis of the Work: Since 2001, the biennial California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) has been the largest health survey of any state and provides a comprehensive picture of California public health care needs and health care access. For this project, the 2005 and 2007 surveys incorporated questions on children's and adolescents' diet and physical activity as well as the environmental factors that influence those behaviors.

Key Findings: The following findings appeared in published articles:

  • Adolescents who brought their lunch from home every day exhibited better eating habits than those who never did.
  • One-quarter of adolescents reported walking, biking or skateboarding to or from school at least three days per week, with distance from home to school being the best predictor of active commuting.
  • Between 2001 and 2007, the prevalence of obesity significantly increased among adolescents from lower-income families, but not among those from higher-income families.

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