TED Conversations

Dr. Michael Katz

President, www.EatingKids.com

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Does the lack of physical education classes in many public schools contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic?

When I was in public school we had to take gym every day. I had 50 minutes of "physical education" every school day from Kindergarten through Senior year of high school. It turns out that LOTS of schools don't have gym anymore. So, does missing out on this 50-minute "workout" every school day contribute to childhood obesity.


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    May 22 2011: The lack of physical activities does contribute but it's not the main cause. According to www.letsmove.gov: "Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese''

    I think that most of these problems started with the kind of lifestyle Americans developed along the years, always in a rush, this combined with the fact that cheap fast food is available at every corner caused a lot of Americans to be very unhealthy. Kids eat what parents eat most of the time, and parents buy what they can afford and is fast and simple, so if it is more affordable to buy a $1 hamburger than to spend $$$ on a bag of fruit and vegetables, of course that poor families will opt to buy Mcdonald's dollar menu.

    It is no coincidence that minority poor children are the ones more affected by obesity. I have heard people saying that fruit and vegetables are not ''sustaining'' enough, and they'd rather pay less money and get foods that make them feel ''full'', such as pizzas, hamburgers, etc... I can understand when people just can't afford to eat very healthy because I know it can cost a lot. With obesity comes other types of problems such type 2 diabetes:
    "Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older''
    Also, kids seem to be more sedentary than they used to be. Instead of playing outside and practicing sports, they spend more time watching TV, playing video games or on the computer.
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      May 23 2011: You're not wrong about lifestyle. In fact, that is why I asked about this subject. If PE classes actually got kids up and moving for 50 minutes on school days that would go far in helping them burn calories and fat, increase metabolism, etc. I'm all in favor of education and life-style modification, but as long as you've got a kid in school 5 days a week, shouldn't you use that time to educate them directly - as well as get them up and moving?

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