Saved by the Bell

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Fitness in America is being promoted more today than it has ever been before, mainly due to the over whelming obesity epidemic. “…data indicate that 11% of 6-11 year olds and 14% of 12-17 year olds are obese (Strategy Development, 1996).” “…double the prevalence of 30 years ago (CDC, 1996).” This is the year 2009 if it had double then, just think how much is has increased with the availability of fast foods. Promoting healthy lifestyles is thrown at us from every direction in today’s society. From television shows, fast food restaurants revising their menus, to free health screenings provided by hospitals. But should this be happening in school? Some think requiring physical education grades K-12 would benefit student’s allowing them how to live a healthy lifestyle along with getting their education. Schools should incorporate the community so students can get physical activity not only in school but also outside. But some think this would take away from the academic side of school and be too much for students to deal with along with their core classes. Mandating physical education for all grade levels has its health benefits along with a few health risks. But first let us take a look at what exactly is causing the obesity epidemic.

Blame it on your parents, your great uncle twice removed; blame it on anyone but yourself the person who is really at fault. But what is really causing obesity? Genetics do play a big part in our health, but it’s a fact that we can control and reduce our risks of developing disease. Many Americans are blaming their rapid weight gain on genetics, but they have played a part in our health from the beginning of time. So why now are they causing us to gain weight. Stress also plays a large part, when we as student has a huge paper due that they forgot about the last thing we have time for is to make a healthy and well proportioned meal. We want energy and want it fast. Snacking and binge eating are one the rise in our fast paced society giving us more time to get the important things done. The activity levels of Americans has decreased over the years with the easily accessible internet, video games, and even ordering your dinner online and having it delivered. We have no reason to get up off of the couch and be active when everything we need is just a click or call away. As Americans are growing so is the world around them, making it seem normal to be obese. “Big homes, bathrooms, beds and cars can provide a large frame for people in private…and now, when they go out to public spaces, architectural regulations make it so everyone fits most anywhere, anywhere, that is, that was designed recently.” (qtd. in “The Widening of America.”) I can remember in high school we had a concession stand that sold quick snacks. This was always my choice during lunch, the last thing I had time for was sitting down and eating a full meal, when my boyfriend was flirting with my best friend during break!

Now that we have taken a look to just why we are becoming obese let us ask the question, “Is mandating physical education K through 12 really going to help reduce our risk and not affect academics?” Schools play a large role in helping students learn and practice healthy eating habits, and in providing the knowledge, motivation, and skills children need for lifelong physical activity. With obesity levels on the rise it only makes sense to some to mandate physical education though out school. Overweight young Americans have tripled from 5% in 1980 to 15% in 2000, which is a scary statistic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age or grade in school increases. Physical activity has been defined as "bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in energy expenditure." Illinois and Massachusetts are the only two states who mandate P.E. grades K-12 and New Jersey and Rhode Island grades 1-12. Although these...
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