School PE Programs Don’t Lower Childhood Obesity

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School PE Programs Don’t Lower Childhood Obesity

Recently, the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver conducted a study of more than 18,000 elementary students and found that although school fitness programs offer some physical benefits, such as improving blood pressure, increasing lung capacity and adding flexibility, they still don’t lower body mass index, which is used to diagnose obesity.

The study researchers speculate that school fitness programs are perhaps not long enough or vigorous enough to help lower body fat, and that for many children, outside factors such as diet counteract any benefit of the school program.

The Vancouver report also noted that the childhood obesity rate in the United States has tripled over the last four decades, and that Canada and much of Europe appear headed for the same rate. However, the study added that Canadian schools still maintain their fitness programs because of the positive benefits they do offer.

The study results were printed in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which included commentary by Australian doctor Louise Baur. She wrote that taking a broad and long-term approach to the childhood obesity epidemic could best reverse the trend.

Her recommendations included offering healthier school meals while cutting back on school and urban advertising of unhealthy snack foods, and designing city developments that allow for more walking and bicycling.

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