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Amber Portwood

KH 2130

Position Paper: Physical Education

Issue 4, Side A

Due to increasing rates of childhood obesity, the importance of physical education in today’s

society is on the rise. The Surgeon General declared the alarmingly high rates of childhood

obesity as an epidemic and deemed decreased physical education in schools as a potential

contributing factor (Cawley, et al.). Until recently, there was not a substantial amount of research

to prove that increased physical education leads to decreased obesity rates. Though there was

little research, advocates for physical education continued to promote its importance and now

there is a greater understanding of the link between childhood obesity and physical education.

Through careful studies, it has been proven that physical education can be a helpful resource in

reducing childhood and youth obesity in the United States, and is beneficial for overall growth

and well-being too.

Increasing focus on physical education is great, but current recommendations are simply

not enough. For P.E. to reduce obesity rates, there are stringent requirements. The Surgeon

General, along with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics,

and many other reputable organizations, recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of physical

activity per week for elementary aged students (Cawley, et al.). These recommendations have

been in place for years, yet the obesity rates have only gone up due to lack of enforcement.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents since late 1970s

(SHAPE). Currently 32% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are overweight or obese and the
obesity rate increases with age. 8.4% of students aged 2-5, 17.7% of students aged 6-11, and

20.5% of students aged 12-19 years old are obese (SHAPE). With no nationwide mandates, there

is no way to truly reduce the overall rates of obesity in a consistent manner.

Research has shown that Physical education not only reduces childhood and adolescent

obesity rates, but can also benefit students academically and developmentally. A growing issue

amongst school aged children is the false diagnosis of ADD and ADHD. Parents are getting their

children medicated for fidgeting and being disruptive in class when all they need is to release

some energy. Students that are able to participate in P.E. or recess for an adequate amount of

time have better focus and attention in the classroom (SHAPE). Physical education has also been

shown to improve decision making, teamwork, and conflict resolution skills (SHAPE). These are

all important aspects of development starting at an early learning stage. Students who are

physically active have also been proven to consistently out-perform those who are not active

when it comes to academics (SHAPE). It’s easy to see the added benefits of physical education

besides being fit.

Overall, physical education benefits children in more ways than one. With an increasing

rate of childhood and youth obesity, standardized physical education across the U.S. could be a

viable tactic in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic. National standards need to be focused

on and enforced in order to make this approach successful. Hopefully, we’ll be able to clearly

see the benefits of physical education in the near future.


References

Cawley, John, David Frisvold, and Chad Meyerhoefer. "THE IMPACT OF PHYSICAL

EDUCATION ON OBESITY AMONG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

CHILDREN." NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH (2012): n. pag. Web.

26 June 2016.

Shape of the Nation. N.p.: SHAPE America, 2016. Web. 26 June 2016