Finally, a State-Funded Map of Texas' Fattest Children

Finally, a State-Funded Map of Texas' Fattest Children
Texas Comptroller's Office

It's no secret that Texans are fat and that they're getting fatter. Right now, almost one in three qualify as obese, with that ratio expected to nearly double over the next two decades. The picture is almost as grim for kids. According to a 2011 study, one in five children in Texas is obese.

But fatness in Texas isn't evenly distributed, and the office of State Comptroller Susan Combs has produced the handy map you see above, of which you can find an interactive version here, shows the distribution of obesity based on school districts. The darker the blue, the higher the percentage of kids in the district who are fat.

The map is based on data collected using Fitnessgram, a youth fitness assessment developed two decades ago by Dallas' Cooper Institute. It was adopted by the Texas Education Agency in 2008 in response to a new law requiring districts to assess students' health and physical fitness each year. One of the key factors in those assessments is body mass index, a way of measuring the percentage of a person's weight that's fat.

Dallas ISD isn't the darkest blue, but it's pretty dark. Just under half the students in DISD have a BMI considered healthy. Thirteen percent have BMIs that put them at moderate risk for current and future health complications. And the rest, 38 percent, are considered to be at high risk. The numbers are almost identical for Houston and Fort Worth ISDs.

That's all rather depressing they're depressing all the same. As for why the comptroller, the state's chief accountant, is concerning herself with children's waistlines, it's because of money. Obesity is predicted to cost Texas businesses $32.5 billion each year by 2030 that could otherwise be invested in more productive ways.

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