First author Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, assistant professor of health education at San Francisco State University, said from 2003-2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed several bills into law to eliminate sodas and other highly sweetened beverages and restrict the sale of junk foods in all of California's public schools.
For the study, Sanchez-Vaznaugh and co-investigators used eight years of body mass index data from fifth- and seventh-grade students collected as part of California's annual Physical Fitnessgram testing. The study compared BMI trends before and after the legislation.
The data indicate that before the policies took effect, the rate of overweight students was increasing among all groups in the study -- girls and boys in fifth and seventh grades.
However, in the three-year period after the policies became effective, the increase in the number of overweight children was significantly reduced among fifth-grade boys and seventh-grade students of both sexes throughout California.
The pre- and post-policy trends in overweight were not significantly different among fifth-grade girls, the study said.
The findings are published in the journal Health Affairs.