KPBSD hears results of recent obesity study

  • By Morris News Service
  • Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:18pm
  • News

Nearly 36 percent of students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are classified as overweight or obese last year according to an Alaska Department of Health and Social Services study.

The study examined body mass index data for the student body over a two-year period and found that the bulk of students, 63 percent, were within a healthy weight range.

KPBSD joined two other school districts in Alaska who participated in studies with the DHSS.


While the data was not gathered in a statistically valid sampling procedure, or randomly, one of the authors, Karol Fink, said researchers used a larger sampling population to increase confidence in their results.


“We got more than 64 percent of the population represented,” Fink said. “So we kind of override it by oversampling. We feel that that’s a pretty valid way to look at the data.”


After the presentation, student representative Hayden Beard, asked if the BMI index accounted for muscle mass.


“You could have a football player who has like nine percent body fat and is huge,” Beard said.


Fink said normally those people would be considered outliers in a large enough data set.


“When you put in enough kids … you end up tending toward the mean which makes us really confident in our results,” she said. “If we had ten kids we wouldn’t be confident … it’s representing 64 percent of the district, we’re quite confident that it accurately reflects the district’s makeup.”


According to the report childhood obesity in the school district aligns closely with national obesity levels with 17 percent of students in the district being obese and a national average of 16.9 percent.


Boys were more likely to be overweight than girls and students who were identified as being of Alaska Native and American Indian descent were more likely to be overweight than other ethnicities, according to the study.


Andrea Fenaughty, who presented the results of the study to the school board, said any program meant to address obesity should take into account the needs of the minority populations as they varied between districts and individual schools.


According to the study the BMI should not be used by itself to diagnose individual children as overweight or obese.


“There are those students, football players, hockey players, or really athletic kids that, if they came up with a high BMI, hopefully the school nurse would be able to make a good recommendation to the family to talk to the provider to see if it was really an issue of being overweight or obese or if it was just their muscle density,” Fink said.


The study sampled data for two years and classified students into four weight categories by using body mass index, or BMI.


The first year of the study, 2010-11, was considered a startup year and 18 schools participated in gathering the data.


During 2011-12, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, collected height and weight measurements from 40 schools.


Rashah McChesney can be reached at


More in News

Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read