AISD Kids Make the (Average) Grade on Obesity Scale
Austin Independent School District teachers may tell their students they’re special, but numbers never lie. And the numbers say that they’re (just a bit) above average.
Thankfully, that’s not a bad thing.
This interactive map from the office of Comptroller Susan Combs displays the body mass index rates of over 2 million students in public schools across Texas. The measurements are based on statistics from the Fitness Gram, a program which measures the fitness levels of Texas public school students from grades 3 to 12. It’s the target of a bill in the state legislature that would end the program.
Austin ISD ranked just one point above the Texas average at 55 percent of students with a healthy body mass index (BMI) and just two points under the average of 44 percent for children at risk for obesity.
Michele Rusnak supervises physical education for AISD and admits that the numbers have plateaued in recent years, citing poor dietary habits and not enough exercise as a factor.
“When we’re testing over 50,000 and we improve a percent, I think that’s significant,” Rusnak said.
But the program, Rusnak argues, has a small price tag for the legislature, with a one-time cost for the computer program that crunches the numbers.
Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, proposed HB1156 which would cut the program from Texas schools. Bonnen told the House Public Education Committee this week that the program tells Texans what we already know: Texas students are getting fatter.
“It’s answering a question that we already know the answer to,” Bonnen said. “There is a problem with childhood obesity.”
Bonnen said he’d talked to physical education administrators and that one had told him the program doesn’t teach valuable lessons for some students and that, “…dragging a kid out of drama class to run a mile, when he hasn’t had a P.E. class in three years” was a waste of class time and teacher pay.
The bill was left pending in committee, but Bonnen said that Rep. Harold Dutton and other representatives favored the bill.
For comparison, here are some of the Austin area school district numbers:
- AISD: 55 percent were healthy; 12 percent were at some risk for obesity; 32 percent were at high risk for obesity
- Manor ISD: 48 percent were healthy; 14 percent were at some risk for obesity; 38 percent were at high risk for obesity
- Eanes ISD: 81 percent were healthy; 10 percent were at some risk for obesity; 9 percent were at high risk for obesity
- Lake Travis ISD: 71 percent were healthy; 11 percent were at some risk for obesity; and 18 percent were high risk for obesity
- Round Rock ISD 66 percent were healthy; 12 percent were at some risk for obesity; 22 percent were at high risk for obesity
- Pflugerville ISD: 56 percent were healthy; 13 percent were at some risk for obesity; 31 percent were at high risk for obesity