In 2005, fitness testing at a state level was still in its infancy, but rates of obesity among children and adolescents were on the rise. The Georgia Healthcare Foundation spearheaded the Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment (GYFA)--a statewide initiative to promote physical activity and nutrition among young people and to provide reliable, comprehensive, and objective information to key decision makers, school officials, parents, and the general public.
Fitnessgram was the tool chosen to administer a series of fitness tests measured against minimal, health-related fitness standards. Students and their families received a health-status report on student fitness with recommendations on how to maintain or improve fitness levels.
To help Georgia become the first state in over a decade to conduct a statewide probability study of fitness--and the first ever to conduct a physical activity survey in conjunction with fitness testing--ICF brought expertise in both childhood obesity and survey research. The GYFA found that about one-third of Georgia’s children and youth had a BMI that is considered a health risk, more than half lacked cardiorespiratory fitness and nearly one-fourth lacked the muscular strength, flexibility, and endurance consistent with current and future good health.
These were the first objective measures of children’s fitness in Georgia. The results provide a baseline for similar surveys to monitor changes in these important measures of children’s health. The data also informed the development of legislation that requires annual fitness testing for children in Georgia.