Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Iowa Schools Battle Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This article features how some Iowa Schools are facing this battle.

Physical education programs adapt in the face of increased child obesity

by Patrick Hogan

Sweat formed on the face of Quinten Lamb, 14, as he pedalled a floating bicycle above a grassy landscape, trying to catch a red dragon in the distance.

His pursuit briefly was interrupted by Steve Fish, a physical education instructor at Marion High School, who came by to check on the freshman’s progress on the video game exercise bike.

“Remember, 10 minutes, then get on the treadmill,” Fish said before moving on to another student in late August in the school’s new basement fitness room.

Marion’s new facility of cutting-edge exercise machines is just one example of new approaches local high schools are taking to combat child obesity.

Obesity in children nationwide has risen steadily since the early 1970s for all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Body mass index tests of students for 2010 found that 32 percent of kindergartners and 37 percent of fifth-graders in the Cedar Rapids school district were overweight or obese, according to district wellness coordinator Grant Schultz.

In Marion, a study school officials did two years ago showed 19 percent of fourth-graders, 59 percent of eighth-graders and 33 percent of high school juniors overweight. The study additionally showed 14 percent of fourth-graders, 28 percent of eighth-graders and 23 percent of high school juniors as being obese.

A fitness report for this year is being prepared.

During his 18 years as a physical educator, Fish has seen obesity become more of an issue with his students, particularly his current 9th grade classes.

“They’re very nice kids, but I think a third of them are at risk from a weight standpoint,” Fish said. “If those were kids at risk for reading and writing, there would be alarms going off.”

Continue Reading full article as featured in the Gazette Online here.

Steve Fish, physical education teacher and Carol M. White PEP Grant Winner in Marion, Iowa will be presenting at the PE4life Resource Conference, October 4-5 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Photo by Liz Martin/The Gazette

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