NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Northborough and Southborough students in grades one, four, seven and 10 are among the least likely in Central Massachusetts to be overweight or obese, according to a recent report by the state Department of Public Health.
The study measured the body mass indexes of 205,784 Massachusetts students in the four aforementioned grades for the 2010 to 2011 school year. In the Northborough-Southborough school district, 22.3 percent of the 1,488 students surveyed were either overweight or obese—meaning that their BMI is equal to or greater than the 85 percentile for their respective age groups.
Statewide, 32.4 percent of students surveyed were either overweight or obese. The study found that students from lower-income communities have a greater chance of being overweight or obese. The study's authors added, however, that data collected over several years is more effective at establishing trends than data collected over a single year.
The Department of Public Health began measuring the BMI of students in grades one, four, seven and 10 in 2009 as part of the Mass in Motion initiative. That year, 120 school districts participated. In 2010, all districts were required to perform screenings.
In Northborough and Southborough, schools have been cutting excess fats, salts and sugars out of school lunches in order to meet new federal regulations. In June, Food Service Director Maura Feeley told the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee that the schools are planning to purchase fresh produce from local sources to add variety to lunch menus.