Fewer than half of the Los Angeles Unified students have a healthy body composition and one in three are considered at risk of future medical problems, according to a new state study.
Results from the 2011-12 physical fitness test, administered to California's fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, found that LAUSD students scored well below their counterparts statewide in virtually every category.
"When we can call fewer than one out of three of our kids physically fit, we know we have a tremendous public health challenge on our hands," state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said. "It affects more than their health. Study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement."
Findings released late last week show that 43.5 percent of LAUSD's fifth-graders have a healthy body-mass index - their weight is appropriate for their height - while 43.2 are deemed so overweight as to endanger their future health. An additional 13.3 percent need to improve, but are not considered at risk.
Among fifth-graders statewide, 52.5 percent scored healthy while nearly 34 percent were considered at risk.
Among seventh-graders, 48 percent of LAUSD students have a healthy body composition, while 14.8 percent need improvement and 37.2 percent are considered at high risk.
Los Angeles Unified's ninth-graders fared the best, with 49.6 percent with a healthy body composition. Just 33.7 are considered high risk and 16.
Statewide, 55.4 percent of seventh-graders and 59 percent of ninth-graders had a healthy body-mass index.
Students also were tested for aerobic capacity, flexibility and abdominal, upper-body and trunk extension strength. However, state officials said body composition was considered the most important indicator of future health problems.
Scores statewide and for Los Angeles Unified held steady from the 2010-11 school year.