The percentage of overweight or obese students dropped by nearly 4 percentage points over the past five years, according to a new report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The data, which was based on annual weight and height screenings from 290 school districts, saw that the biggest declines were in the elementary school student population, reported The Boston Globe.
The state said 30.6% of school children are overweight or obese, which is slightly better than the percentage of all US children who are overweight or obese.
The report also found that poorer children and boys were more likely to be overweight or obese. Researchers found a wide variation between school districts. One had only 9.7% classified as obese or overweight while another had 69% of students obese or overweight, reported The Globe.
“This is now a trend, and we are working hard to see that it continue,” said Carlene Pavlos, director of the health department bureau that runs the school screening program, told The Globe. “This is not the time to let up on our strategies and interventions.”
The encouraging news comes as the state Public Health Council voted to have schools stop sending so-called “fat letters” to parents whose children have a high body mass index reading. The controversial letters caused outrage among parents who viewed the letters as a privacy violation and could lead to bullying.