06-09-2011 09:00 AM #1
Boston schools take up arms to fight student obesity
From Boston Globe by Chelsea Conaboy:
Two of every five children in Boston’s public schools weigh more than they should. But 30 percent of the district’s schools offer no physical education classes.
Now, school administrators are promising to do more to bridge the gap between what is needed and what is available to address a health problem that has been declared a national crisis.
The district yesterday announced that it will hire more physical education teachers so that 106 schools can offer PE. This year, only 94 of the district’s 134 schools offered those classes.
In the past year, the district received $4.6 million, primarily from the US Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to address student fitness and nutrition.
“If you want to improve academics of students, you also have to look at their health, because healthy children are better able to learn,’’ said Jill Carter, executive director of the district’s Health and Wellness Department. “We’re dealing with achievement gaps that sort of overlap or are in some way affected by health disparities.’’
The district’s finding that 40 percent of students are overweight or obese came from physical assessments students receive every three years in school.
State law requires that students in every grade be taught physical education but does not specify how much. That loophole means many students never dribble a ball during the school day. A CDC survey found that 73 percent of Boston high school students do not get the recommended one hour of activity per day — at school or at home.