GRAFTON, Mass. - Grafton students are, as a group, in better shape than most children in Massachusetts.
A new study released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show that 23.3 percent of the Grafton students polled in select grades are either overweight or obese, the state average is 32.4 percent.
Broken down, of the 1,036 students whose weight and height were measured, then scored on a standard body mass index, 23.8 percent of the boys and 22.7 percent of the girls tipped the scale. The study, taken during the 2010-11 school year, only included the MCAS evaluation grades 1, 4, 7, and 10.
Trish Parent, the public health nurse for the Town of Grafton, was relieved that the scores came in better than average but said parents should remember that the numbers reflect the group and not the individual.
“Body Mass Index is not an exact science,” she said. “Some kids are in excellent shape but their BMI could be high because they carry a lot of muscle.”
The report also said students in the Town of Needham scored the lowest: only 14.8 percent of the students were overweight or obese. Southbridge scored the highest at 51.8 percent.
The study also showed that the lower the median household income in a town, the higher percentage of overweight and obese students, which the Food Research and Action Center confirmed in a separate study. They said that lower income families with tighter family budgets cannot afford as much fresh produce. Consequently, more processed foods, which are higher in fat and sugar, are more affordable.