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Campaign To End Obesity Says Without Physical Education

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Campaign to End Obesity (CEO) is calling on the U.S. Senate to incorporate the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act as it reauthorizes the No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced FIT Kids last week.

"The absence of physical education initiatives in No Child Left Behind has contributed to a worrisome decline in physical activity in schools," said Jessica Donze Black, CEO executive director. "More than 9 million children have obesity, increasing the risk for a host of illnesses in adulthood and endangering their health and quality of life in childhood. The result is increased school absenteeism and reduced academic success --- the very things that the No Child Left Behind Act is intended to combat."

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FIT Kids would amend No Child Left Behind to improve current physical education standards, support professional development for health and physical education teachers and authorize the study of improved methods for integrating physical activity.

Overweight adolescents have at least a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, yet fewer than 10 percent of U.S. schools offered daily physical education for all students in 2000. Outside of school, more than 60 percent of children 9 to 13 do not participate in any organized physical activity.

"Expanding physical education and opportunities for participation in physical activity is essential to helping our children prevent the disabling disease of obesity," said Lee Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., an obesity medicine specialist at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the CEO Board of Directors.

The rate of childhood obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2000, making this the first U.S. generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Obesity increases the risk of all cancers and contributes to diseases including heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. The annual cost of obesity to society is estimated to be at least $117 billion.