School officials count 39 fast food spots within National City's nine square miles.
  • School officials count 39 fast food spots within National City's nine square miles.
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The schoolchildren of more affluent parents not only do the best on standardized academic tests, they also do better on measures of physical fitness, a recent report on obese children in San Diego County suggests.

Meghann O'Connor: it's cheaper to fill up on junk food. (Photo of Popeye's on Plaza Blvd.in National City)

Meghann O'Connor: it's cheaper to fill up on junk food. (Photo of Popeye's on Plaza Blvd.in National City)

The study, from the county's Childhood Obesity Initiative, located the most severe problems in predominantly Hispanic school districts and found the National City elementary schools to have the most unfit kids — about half the fifth graders were deemed overweight or obese — among 42 school systems throughout San Diego County. Coronado tops the opposite end of the scale; leading all 42 districts in student fitness. There, only one in six children tested as overweight or obese.

Coronado entertains but one Burger King near the ferry landing.

Coronado entertains but one Burger King near the ferry landing.

In National City, a key administrator says students are more prone to dine at fast-food restaurants not only because of their ubiquity (school officials count 39 such spots within the city's nine square miles), but because it is tolerated by their financially hard-pressed parents. The reason, said Meghann O'Connor, director of student support services for the National School District, is that it's actually cheaper to fill up on junk food than have a nutritious and balanced home-cooked meal.

O'Connor pointed out the proliferation of fast-food restaurants in National City — a McDonald's, a Popeye's, a Wienerschnitzel, a Burger King, an El Pollo Loco and a Jack in the Box can be sampled on a short stroll south from 12th Street along Highland Avenue. Coronado entertains but one Burger King near the ferry landing. Rounding out the most-fit five districts are Rancho Santa Fe, San Dieguito, Del Mar, and the Julian Union High School District. Joining National City among the least-fit are Escondido, South Bay, Lemon Grove, and San Ysidro.

The fitness test itself looked at aerobic capacity, upper body strength, flexibility, and what's called body composition, which determines how much fat-free mass the body contains. A key component is the body-mass index, or BMI, which is derived from dividing one's weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. For example, a 10-year-old boy would be obese at a BMI of 23 and overweight at a 21. The CDC says about one in five schoolchildren in the United States is overweight or obese.

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Comments

bbq June 15, 2017 @ 12:49 p.m.

Part of the issue here is not only the quality/affordability/availability of food choices in these areas of childhood obesity is the fact that Physical Education, Sports opportunities and Outside Activities are limited in these neighborhoods.
Our society and communities have moved away from sports and activities for everyone to a Pay to Play society. This is evidenced on the Soccer Fields and Baseball Diamonds, where to succeed you need to play year-round with paid Coaches, or on Travel Teams.

Our communities also have the "Fear" factor for our kids which is perpetuated by the type and frequency of our news reports, scaring parents to having their kids outside without them there, even in a group setting, leading to the sedentary computer games lifestyle.

How does a society overcome these things, you ask, this is where Mentorship, Activities and community involvement become vital. There are many little known programs available which if we were to actively join them up in a "United Way" Style funding and cooperative messaging could be an answer to these issues. San Diego Velodrome (Bicycle Track) in Morley Field, participates in a few Youth Programs which are free to any Youth in the county, Velo-Youth which is school based and Youth Development classes. Look them up at veloyouth.org and sdvelodrome.com. BBQ

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Visduh June 15, 2017 @ 4:42 p.m.

There might be a factor of ethnicity going here. People from some areas of the world don't do well on the white folks diet which can have too much fat, too much salt, too much white flour or white rice, too little fibre, and the all-time bugbear, sugar. What I just described is much of the fast food we consume today, and what seems a treat for the poorer people.

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AlexClarke June 17, 2017 @ 7:18 a.m.

There are a lot of white folks that don't do so well on the "white folks diet" either.

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chendri887 June 18, 2017 @ 1:10 a.m.

After all that has happened in the United States over the past 30-40 years, are Americans still blind to the fact that the Horatio Alger myth (and our elites' infatuation w/Ayn Rand-inspired Calvinist neoliberalism) is so far beyond believable (and so far beyond resolving intractable class division; in fact, it increases class division) that it is offensive to even write articles like these? Of course there large numbers of fast food chains in South Bay, and of course the students in South Bay--west of the I-805--struggle more than most with functioning in an academic environment and with obesity (and probably, a great deal of food insecurity)! Of course they do! Our economic system is set up to ensure that they do, in spite of what anyone might say. Many kids in South Bay west of I-805 do not come from families blessed with the built-up class privilege/leverage necessary to produce the faux appearance of "accomplishment" so common in most of our elites' families. No, what these students get is a heavy dose of popular culture, a popular culture that with its increasing social liberalism still completely glosses over the failure of our economic system, instead promoting the very same conservative economic mythology of "self-made personhood" that it purportedly blames are societal "regressiveness" on. Might we not be better served by acknowledging that multigenerational poverty creates layers of mental health and other problems that makes movement out of one's social class near impossible, and that to pretend that it is mystery why kids in South Bay are struggling academically and with obesity is an offense to those dealing with such overwhelming issues? I say this not to criticize the writer of the article, but to promote the idea that we as a society need to examine some of our foundational myths to determine if we can continue to build a functional democracy by maintaining them with such blind rigidity in adhearing to them but pretending that they do not exist at the same time. In my opinion, we cannot.

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