The obesity rate among children increased three-fold from 1980 to 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, almost 20 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were obese, while 18.1 percent of children aged 12 to 19 were obese. Physical education programs in schools may help reduce the number of children who struggle from obesity.
Significance of Childhood Obesity
Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to be obese when they reach adulthood, according to the University of Michigan Health System. In addition, just as adults who are obese have an increased risk of suffering from diabetes or coronary disease, so do children. Children who are obese may also struggle with depression or self-esteem issues, making it difficult for them to interact socially and engage in extra-curricular activities that require physical exertion.
Active for an Hour a Day
Your child's school is the primary place for your child to participate in a physical education class. School-aged children should be active for at least 60 minutes a day, as recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Many physical education classes are shorter than 60 minutes, making it necessary for children to be active after school and on the weekends. If you have the option, sign your child up for physical education classes that involve aerobic activity, such as track, basketball or soccer.
Advocate for Activity
Physical education classes should be a regular part of your child's school schedule to help your child meet the minimum number of activity minutes each day and avoid obesity. If your school offers physical education classes as an optional part of your child's coursework, become an advocate for increasing the frequency and intensity of the classes. The NASPE indicates that secondary students should participate in at least three hours and 45 minutes of physical education a week, and elementary school students 2-1/2 hours per week.
Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Physical education classes offer your child more than just the opportunity to move his body each day. A good physical education teacher can help your child develop skills in a sport that can result in an appreciation and enjoyment that can help him avoid obesity his entire life. When your child stays active during his childhood years, he may be more likely to stay active through walking, running, swimming or playing on an intramural sports team as he goes to college and enters the work force.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Obesity
- University of Michigan Health System: Obesity and Overweight
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education: National Guidelines
- Connecticut State Department of Education: Guidelines for a Coordinated Approach to School Health: Section 3 -- Physical Education