Monthly Article Archives: March 2003

Making Sound Decisions about Nurturing a Sound Mind and a Sound BodyRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

Several magazine, newspaper, and website articles about physical fitness and physical education have caught my attention in the past few months. A few of the most prominent stories described the alarming increase in obesity in American children and adolescents. A recent Newsweek article noted, “Baby fat has morphed into a national health crisis. Nearly 15 percent of kids between 12 and 19 are overweight—up from 5 percent in the late 1970s.” The article continued, “They’re also more sedentary than ever. Less than 25 percent of school-age children get even 20 minutes of rigorous daily physical activity, well below the minimum doctors prescribe.” Public health officials warn that this inactivity will lead to “costly, debilitating illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes even in their 20s and 30s.” Relatedly, the American Diabetes Association published a report noting that about 20 percent of childhood diabetes cases are type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes, which is linked to being overweight. These warnings have prompted some physical education teachers to re-evaluate the purpose of physical education classes; they no longer devote most of their time and energy on students who demonstrate the greatest athletic talent. Newsweek quoted Peggy Hutter, a physical education teacher

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