School P.E. May Not Lower Child Obesity


Despite the requirement of school P.E. in most educational systems across the United States and Canada, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 40 years in the United States, according to a study performed by B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Similar increases of childhood obesity despite the presence of school P.E. programs are also reported in Canada and Europe, according to the study published in the Canadian medical journal CMAJ.


School P.E. still holds a number of benefits even if it does not change the fact that children and parents across the world are exhibiting poor eating habits and food choices, according to the Canadian study published in March 2009. Benefits reported include lower blood pressure, improvements in both bone density and muscle mass, and better lung capacity and flexibility. However, there are a number of factors in and out of school P.E. that make it hard for the programs alone to lower children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and reduce the escalating rate of obesity among kids.


Most school P.E. programs simply cannot offer enough vigorous activity for a long enough period of time to combat cultural obstacles and poor eating habits at home and even at school. Most schools do not offer healthy lunches and other meal programs, according to the study. This makes it harder for children to get some form of nutritious meal during their day, especially if their parents are exhibiting poor habits such as relying heavily on fast food, fats, and starchy entrees. In addition, many American, Canadian, and European cities are still not walkable and require reliance on vehicles. Increasing activity across the board, encouraging healthy eating at least at school, and educating parents to select better foods for themselves and their children is required in addition to school P.E. programs to combat childhood obesity.


"School P.E. Programs Don’t Lower Child Obesity."