The newest figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that fully one-third of schools don’t offer physical education or recess options to all students. You know what that means: More kids are at greater risk for weight gain.
CDC researcher Sarah Lee drew these conclusions from the agency’s data:
"Schools are crunched for time," Lee said. "One of the biggest reasons is because of the pressures for improving test scores within core academic subjects."
However, along with higher test scores may come higher obesity rates.
"The equation for the increase in obesity we’ve seen is lack of physical activity combined with higher intake of energy through food and beverages," Lee said. "The more activity kids can get through phys ed and through recess, the better."
With the debate over school nutrition program reauthorization on the horizon, it is paramount that parents fight to keep phys ed programs in schools.
Physical activity has proven to be an effective counterbalance for kids’ favorite treats – far more effective than ill-considered food bans. Children who get the recommended amount of activity throughout the day have noticeably fewer weight problems than their sedentary peers. Children who don’t? As we discussed in our Small Choices, Big Bodies report, they often find themselves battling the bulge as adults, too.
Physical fitness and higher test scores aren’t an either/or proposition: Research from Harvard has indicated a correlation between fitness and academic achievement. And not allowing kids time off to play has behavioral repercussions as well. A study in the February edition of the journal Pediatrics found that children who are given recess time in school behave better when they’re in class.
Childhood obesity is best addressed by including more physical activity in school, where kids spend the majority of their day. That’s common sense even a second-grader could recognize.