California students not too fat - but still not fit

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California kids aren’t all that fat – but they’re not as fit as they should be, either. That’s the basic finding in the new round of physical fitness test scores for public schools in California.

The scores reflect how physically fit fifth, seventh, and ninth graders are.

The scores cover six fitness areas: aerobic capacity, flexibility, body composition, abdominal strength, upper body strength and “trunk extensor strength.”

That last one is a fancy way of saying “how strong is your lower back?” Lower back pain is a leading cause of disability in the US.

But the fitness measurement that state schools chief Jack O’Connell pegs as the most important is the first one: aerobic capacity. It's also the fitness area that gave California students the most trouble.

The statewide average for aerobic capacity put 63 percent of ninth graders in the “healthy fitness zone.” But scores in the biggest school district in the state - Los Angeles Unified - often ran below the state average.

At East L.A.’s Roosevelt High, only 44 percent of the students hit the “healthy fitness zone” for aerobic capacity. At L.A.’s Dorsey High, it was less than 37 percent. And at Jefferson High, the number was only 25 percent.

At Taft High in the San Fernando Valley, the scores weren't much better. Only a little more than 54 percent of Taft's ninth graders scored in the "healthy fitness zone" for aerobic capacity.

The ninth graders at Narbonne High in Harbor City scored slightly above the statewide average, with nearly 64 percent reaching the "healthy fitness zone." Students at East L.A.'s Garfield High did even better at nearly 66 percent.