Colorado’s public school students have become more Latino and poorer over the past decade, an I-News analysis of Colorado Department of Education data found. Both populations are more susceptible to childhood weight and obesity issues, according to federal data.
The I-News analysis found:
- Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of Latino students has increased in all 35 of the largest school districts in Colorado. Combined, the Latino school population in the largest districts rose from 1 in 4 in 2003 to almost 1 in 3 in 2012.
- Latino children ages 6-to-17 have an overweight rate 60 percent higher than non-Latino white children, according to the federal Office of Minority health.
- A separate survey of high school students in the state conducted in 2011, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found obesity rates among Latino teens more than three times higher than white teenagers – 15.3 percent versus 4.7 percent. In 1999, the first year the survey was conducted, the gap was significantly closer, 8.4 percent versus 5.7.
- Nine of the largest districts had Latino populations of 50 percent or more, and 15 had Latino enrollment of about one-third or higher of the student body. In 2003, it was five and 10 districts, respectively.
- Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of low-income students, measured by qualifying for free- and reduced-price lunches, rose in all of the state’s 35 largest school districts. Combined, the percentage of low income students in all 35 districts rose from 30 percent to 41 percent.
- Ten of the largest districts had more than half of the students deemed low income and 23 had more than a third of their students eligible for free and reduced priced lunches. In 2003, it was five and 14 districts, respectively.