Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More on Obesity

My last post dealing with childhood obesity reminded me of something I wanted to blog about previously.

The Centers for Disease Control notes:
The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.
First Lady Michelle Obama is staring a government study and program to address the problem. But we don't need a new government program, what we need is to return to a old program--Physical education in our schools.

Now this might come off as a "back in the good old days" type of nostalgia, but this one I think is pretty accurate.

When I was in elementary and middle school (up to the 8th grade), we had P.E. everyday, usually for about 30 minutes, maybe a little longer, but we will use 30 minutes since it makes the math easier. The school year was 180 days long (which is nominally how long the school year is now for most students--that is arguable, but the subject of another post). The instructional day was usually 6 hours. The school day was a little longer to account for lunch time, movement between classes in middle school, etc. Thus the number of hours in school was 1080 over the course of a year.

A school week was 30 hours long and we usually had 2.5 hours of P.E. every week. We exercises for 30 minutes a day, every day we were in school. That seems to be what most experts says is a good amount of daily exercise. Nearly ten percent of our school week was exercise. Over the course of a school year (36 weeks long) we had 90 hours of P.E. This was in the 1970's and early 1980's.

Today, my oldest daughter goes to elementary school. She has P.E. for 30 minutes two days a week. That is it. She has 1 hour of exercise at school every week. In the course of a school year, she has 36 hours of P.E., just over 1/3 the amount that I had as a school kid.

So my idea would be, why not simply reinstate daily P.E. for elementary and middle school kids.

Sure, this doesn't address all the problems of childhood obesity, but if you start getting kids daily exercise when they are in school, maybe you start to reduce the obesity problem.

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