Study: Benicia Has Lowest Childhood Obesity Rate in Solano County

New research finds 29.9 percent of the city's children fall into the overweight or obese category.

New data shows childhood obesity rates persisting throughout the state, and presents troubling figures on the local level.

Benicia has the lowest rate of childhood obesity in Solano County with 29.9 percent of its children falling into the overweight or obese category. Additionally, the city showed a lower rate of childhood obesity than both the county and the state.

The first of its kind study, conducted jointly by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, breaks down the statistics city by city. It shows 38.4 percent of children in the county are overweight or obese. The figure for California is 38 percent.

Overweight and Obesity among Children by California City–2010 analyzes more than 250 California cities, finding “shocking discrepancies based on locale,” according to the report.

The cities studied showed a range from nearly 1 in 10 children being overweight or obese on the low end, to more than half of children falling into the category on the high end.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study used data from the California Department of Education’s 2010 Physical Fitness Tests to examine geographical variation in overweight and obesity among 5th, 7th, and 9th grade school children.

Researchers analyzed 5 cities in the county, and found Benicia to have the lowest range at 29.9 percent, and Suisun City to be the poorest performer with 46.3 percent.

Ranked from highest to lowest, the local statistics are:

  • Suisun City 46.3 percent
  • Vallejo 43.7 percent
  • Fairfield 39.3 percent
  • Vacaville 36.3 percent
  • Benicia 29.9 percent

Policy recommendations urge state and local leaders to improve conditions in schools and communities to help make healthy lifestyle choices easier for children and their parents.

Suggestions include removing high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods and beverages from school districts, opening school recreational facilities after hours for community use, and making streets and roadways more accessible for those who walk, bike and use wheelchairs.

To read the findings and policy recommendations, as well as see how all cities ranked, click here.

Joe Feltcher June 15, 2012 at 03:53 PM
The demographics don't hurt.
Gdo June 15, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I hope we're not proud of this number. Even though others are worse, this is a shockingly high level of overweight and obese children. How could we do this to our kids?
Jason June 16, 2012 at 12:21 AM
By failing to teach them what "No" means.
Jason June 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Measure their weight and it's fine. Measure their intelligence and it's "racist." Go figure.
Mary Frances Poh June 16, 2012 at 06:25 AM
I am not surprised by either number. The more affluent a community is the less amount of obesity. But we do have a significant number of children who are latch key children and they aren't encouraged to play outside and get enough exercise. We do not have food ghettos in Benicia but there are such in Vallejo and people can't get fresh foods which are better and healthier for them. While we do have some fast food outlets in Benicia there aren't as many by population as found in the other communities. Look at the health element of the general plan to see what we want to do in this community about the health of our children and everyone else.
Stan Houston June 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Mary Frances is right (as usual). There's nothing new here. Compare our 2010 API scores with other Solano County schools and the numbers correlate almost 1:1 with obesity. Here's an interesting tidbit - (undocumented by widely held true): we have a higher percentage of skateboarders compared with the other cities in the study. Odd, you never see the Benicia P.D. pulling over or hassling obese kids.
The truth hurts June 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Benicia People ... are so into them selfs it makes me sick! You act as if your little red neck town is so much better ! You still have fat kids ,lazy people , over stuffed loud mouthed fools who think your all that! the high school is the same size as it was 20 years ago . Was this factored in? Doubtful! How about the fact that Benicia hates outsiders? Any outsiders at all ? I can go on and on and on Benicia SUCKS! Your kids have to go out of town for any type of fun at all. Lets not go into that ...we woulde'nt want any one to come down on your kids for doing things out side the law . Would we? Just a little part of our big county ..but you all want to come off so large . Lets see your an old dump ...the worst kind thats ever been around.and your a big oil co. BIG DEAL! You suck and so do your kids !
leon johnson June 16, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Hello, my name is Leon, I am new to Benicia however born and raised in Marin, a county with the lowest child obsity rate in the state. Mary francis, Your view is common however not completly accurate. Obesity is generaly cultural, rich or poor, black or white fat children mostly have fat parents. A good example is the city of Vellejo, many people in that city relative to Benicia were bourn and raised in the south, orthers are only one or two genarations out of the south. Any one that has traveled to Mississippi, Louisiana, Gorga and Texas knows that they love food ah - plenty, they fry everything and exercise is not high on the adult to do list. In order to help people you must understand the root of their issue, you place a fast food outlet where the customer already exist, not the opposite!
Riva Flexer June 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Hostile and angry comment has no place in this discussion. I've lived here for nearly ten years and I felt welcome in Benicia from the start. That being said, obesity has cultural, genetic and political roots, such as diet, parental background and education level and parental availability, school lunch food selections and shopping habits and food source locations. Recognition of the problem is a good start towards solving it. But childhood obesity is a multi-faceted problem which requires a multi-faceted approach.
Riva Flexer June 16, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Hostile and agressive, angry comments without support have no place in this discussion. I moved from another country to Benicia ten years ago, and I was made welcome rapidly. it's been a good place to raise my children. That being said, child obesity is a multi-faceted problem. Figures such as these statistics are based upon myriad factors, such as parents' origin, culture and education level, availability of healthy lunches at school, parental availability, healthy food choices while shopping and availability of fresh produce locally. Education of parents and children is key here, and this is where public health and the schools could be involved.
Robert Livesay June 16, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I do believe Good Will Hunting Gregory our official Citizen Reporter/Research should do a full investigation on this issue. He is very good at calling people. I am sure he could cut/paste many articles on this very subject. Go get em Good Will Hunting Gregory. We need you now.
JB Davis (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM
One of the interesting things about the Hunger Challenge, which I participated in, was the way I chose healthy food and not too much of it. There are a lot of things we could all do to be healthier. My favorite recommendation from the study is the complete streets element. However, it isn't enough to make sure there are sidewalks and bicycle lanes. We also need to encourage kids to use them and that is best done by example. Perhaps we should all try leaving our cars at home more often.
JB Davis (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Hi Mr. Johnson and welcome to Benicia!
Robert Livesay June 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM
JB the real issue is the folks themselves. The advise most doctors give is lose weight and exercise more. When you do not you are now on meds to correct the situation. I am a big believer that it is up to each person to take care of their own personal habits. Yes it might be nice if we all walked and road bikes more often. But what if that person does not want to. We do not know what their personal habits are. They may go to a gym, work in their garden or just walk close to home. We can not dictate personal habits. Just try and educate what the final out come could be. I think that is why we have doctors. JB when I was a young child we were always outside doing things. Plenty of running and games. Now these kids are all into electronics and gadgets. It is up to the parents to controll and make sure children eat correctly and exercise. I never had a school lunch program, my mother was my school lunch program. From the seventh grade on we had gym class nd many after school activities. Believe me all most all of them were out door activities. I blame the parents, schools and administrators for not paying any attention to this issue. In many cases it is enviroment, heredity and culture. Some folks just do not learn and end up paying the price. We are all included. Some to a higher degree than others.
T. Gunter June 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
There has got to be a way we can bring the Mayor into this discussion, as well. Oops, I just did.
T. Gunter June 17, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I read that at least 25 cents of every health care dollar is spent on the treatment of diseases or disabilities that result from potentially changeable behaviors. Whether the cause is smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet, lack of exercise, failure to use seat-belts, or overexposure to the sun; these are all preventable health care costs. People with unhealthy habits pay only a fraction of the costs associated with their behaviors; most of the expense is borne by the rest of society in the form of higher insurance premiums.


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