Keeping Kids Active
Some Facts About Our Children’s Health
- Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who are obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 25% in 2011. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 25% over the same period.
- More than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on the health and well-being of our kids…and is increasing at an alarming speed!
The Short-Term and Long-Term Health Effects of Obesity
- Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
- Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults.
- Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk for many types of cancer.
The reduction of Physical Education classes is a major culprit. Schools nationally are undergoing budget cuts or are placing a higher emphasis on academic performance while physical education classes and programs are reduced, or eliminated all together. Thus, even while most states are undertaking school reforms, lack of funding is causing American students to have little or no gym time.
Physical education is being short-changed. Many schools don’t have recess. Experts and educators feel that the reduction and elimination of Physical Education has been a major contributor to the skyrocketing obesity rates.
The more unhealthy kids become, the less they will exercise, causing a vicious downward cycle.
The Issues Are Amplified for Minority Students
Minority children display the highest obesity rates; the challenges to implement stronger Physical Education programs in lower-income schools are heightened by larger class sizes, less funding and limited facilities.
Sports Activities Help Fight Childhood Obesity
Sports not only provide children with much-needed exercise, but has also been shown to help psychological skill development, improves bone growth and general fitness.
Sports activity provides total body exercise that gives the cardiovascular system a workout, helping prevent heart disease and strengthen the immune system. It also strengthens the major muscle groups in the arms, legs and torso.
Tennis provides practice in sprinting, jumping and lunging. Studies show a player changes direction five times in ten seconds during a point, so it is ideal for improving reaction times and motor control. Bone density is also improved in young players, helping prevent osteoporosis in later life.