Outcome: Physically Healthy and Safe
Percentage of Students in Grades 3 through 12 Who are in the Healthy Fitness Zone for Body Mass Index
Significance of Indicator: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are obese are at risk for a number of poor health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem. Furthermore, children who are obese are more likely to experience obesity when they become adults. Adults who are obese or overweight are at a higher risk for coronary disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer according to the National Institutes of Health.
what the data tell us
Fitness data are only shown for school districts which reported student Fitnessgram data to the Texas Education Agency. During the 2013-2014 school year, local data were available for Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, and Round Rock SD. As the graph below shows, the share of students in the healthy fitness zone varies widely. Of the three local districts, Round Rock ISD had the highest percentage of students in the healthy zone for BMI (66%), followed by Austin ISD(57%), and Del Valle ISD (47%). Across years, it appears that districts in Western Travis County have higher shares of students in the health fitness zone than schools in Eastern Travis County.
Definition: The percent of students, grades 3 through 12, who are considered in the healthy fitness zone for body mass index, as measured by the Fitnessgram assessment
Data Source: Texas Education Agency
Data Considerations: Students with a body mass index below the 85th percentile are considered in the healthy fitness zone. More information on the Fitnessgram standards is available from The Cooper Institute. Data are only available for schools that submitted information to the Texas Education Agency. Due to changes in standards, data for 2011-2012 and forward and not comparable to prior years. Aggregated data at the school level for less than five students were masked. Therefore, these data points were round to zero when calculating district totals.
overall healthy fitness zone
The share of students in the healthy fitness zone in all six Fitnessgram tests varies across school districts, with districts located in western Travis County tending to have a higher share of students in the healthy fitness zone than districts located in the eastern portion of the county. In the 2013-2014 school year, 30% of students in Round Rock ISD, 26% of students in Austin ISD, and 19% of students in Del Valle ISD tested in the healthy fitness zone across all six Fitnessgram tests. Fitness data are only shown for school districts which reported student Fitnessgram data to the Texas Education Agency. During the 2013-2014 school year, local data were available for Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, and Round Rock ISD.
Definition: The percent of students, grades 3 through 12, who are considered in the healthy fitness zone in all six tests measured by the Fitnessgram assessment
Data Source: Texas Education Agency
Data Considerations: The Fitnessgram assessment measures student fitness on six tests (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run, Skin Fold Test, Curl Up, Trunk Lift, Push-Up, and Back-Saver Sit and Reach) in four domains (aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility). More information on the Fitnessgram standards is available from The Cooper Institute and the Texas Education Agency. Data are only available for schools that submitted information to the Texas Education Agency. Due to changes in standards, data for 2011-2012 and forward and not comparable to prior years. Aggregated data at the school level for less than five students were masked. Therefore, these data points were round to zero when calculating district totals.
the story behind the indicator
Although Austin is a healthy community overall, many groups struggle with obesity and poor physical health. Greater shares of students attending school located in districts located in western Travis County appear to reach the highest level of the healthy fitness zone than students attending schools in the eastern portion of Travis County. Spatial analyses by Children’s Optimal Health have found high concentrations of students experiencing obesity in north-central and southeast Austin. A number of local initiatives are working to reduce childhood obesity, increase overall health, and decrease health disparities in the Greater Austin Area.
some local efforts to improve this indicator
There are numerous community partners working to address and reverse the trend in childhood obesity in the Austin area. Some examples of these efforts include:
- AISD implementation of the CATCH program with support from the University of Texas School of Public Health, and enhancements to the physical education curriculum, using internal AISD resources as well as grant-funded support
- Development and implementation of an obesity case management program within Childrens/AISD Student Health Services to address the obesity-related health concerns for students at highest risk of poor health
- Clinical care improvements through the development of a pediatric obesity specialty clinic at Dell Childrens Medical Center, and clinic-based and other outreach programs for families with children at risk for obesity-related disease
- Policy and environmental changes at the state and local levels which have resulted in mandatory screening of students in grades 3-12, imporvements in the school nutrition programs, planning and development of sidewalks and hike and bike trails in the community; environmental scanning to identify areas where access to healthy food options are restricted, and advocay to improve access
- After school and recreational programs that emphasize physical activity and nutrition
- Nutrition education and cooking classes targeted to low income families and English language learners
- Improved access to farmers markets and use of nutrition vouchers to encourage fresh produce consumption
- Neighborhood advocacy programs in areas where high need is identified
- On-going analysis of the impact of these changes on child health measures at the neighborhood level, using time series mapping by Childrens Optimal Health
- The Go Austin! Vamos Austin! intiative, a partnership among several stakeholder groups, is working to improve health outcomes in the 78744 and 78745 zip codes by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, particularly among children. The initiative has engaged community members to create more open spaces and opportunities for physical activity and encourage more healthy food options in local stores.
- In 2014, a coalition of local partners including Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department (ATCHHSD), the City of Austin Transportation Department, the City of Austin Office of Sustainability, and Capital Metro, was awarded a grant from the American Planning Association to promote the use of active transportation and assess the neighborhood food system in the Rundberg area.
- As part of the Community Health Improvement Plan, local stakeholders including the Central Texas Afterschool Network and the University of Texas School of Public Health are promoting guidelines to encourage healthy eating at after school programs.
Children's Optimal Health (COH), a collective leadership initiative to ensure every child in Central Texas becomes a healthy, productive adult, has analyzed and mapped Fitnessgram data collected by the Austin Independent School District since 2007. Through an innovative process, COH produces maps that display health related landscapes at a neighborhood level that remains HIPAA and FERPA compliant. Included here are two maps of particular relevance to youth health. One map shows areas within the school district where a high proportion of middle school students are overweight or obese (students at or above the 85th percentile in BMI scores). The other map highlights areas where a high proportion of middle school students do not pass Fitnessgram cardiovascular tests. Although we choose to only present results for the middle school age bracket, nearly identical geographic patterns hold for elementary and high school age groups. For more information, see Children's Optimal Health.
contributors to the development of this indicator
- Ellen Balthazar, Kirsten Siegfried, and other Success By 6 Stakeholders
- The Travis and Williamson Service Area Collaborative of the Integrated Care Collaborative (ICC), coordinated by insure.a.kid, and Central Health