Fitness Fun for Everyone: Classroom Games and Activities to Support Reading and Math
Andrews, Shirley P., Andrews, Stan, Childhood Education
Children who are less physically active and show elevated levels of body fat and above-normal weight may not perform as well academically as those who are more physically active (American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM], 2006a). Since the 1970s, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled for preschool children and adolescents and more than tripled for school-age children (Feeg, 2004). Without a doubt, an epidemic of physical inactivity and being overweight is threatening children in the United States. The statistics bear out that children in the United States are becoming more obese and less physically active at an unprecedented and alarming rate. In the United States, the prevalence of being overweight among children ages 6-11 years has more than doubled in the past 20 years, increasing from 7% in 1980 to 18.8% in 2004. For the same time period, the rate of being overweight among adolescents ages 12-19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.1% (Ogden et al., 2006).
When discussing the topics of being overweight, being at risk for overweight, and obesity, it is important to have a working definition of these terms. According to information released by the National Task Force on Prevention and Treatment of Obesity (2000), the term "obesity," as perceived by most people, carries the connotation of being extremely overweight. Health professionals define overweight as an excess amount of body weight that includes muscle, bone, fat, and water; whereas obesity is specifically defined as an excess amount of body fat. Fat is not all bad; all individuals need a certain amount of body fat for stored energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other necessary body functions. According to the Partnership for Healthy Weight Management (2000), males with more than 25% body fat and women with more than 30% body fat are considered obese.
Recently, body mass index (BMI) has become the medical standard used to assess overweight and obesity. BMI is a calculation using height and weight to determine overweight and obesity ranges (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2008a). The BMI score is in kg/[m.sup.2].
An adult with a BMI score between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, whereas someone with a BMI score of 30 or higher is considered obese. For children and teens, BMI is age- and gender-specific and is a reliable indicator of body fat, which can be used to identify possible weight problems for children. The BMI calculation for children and teens is plotted on the CDC BMI-for-age growth charts (male or female) to obtain a percentile ranking. A percentile ranking falling between the 5th percentile and the 85th percentile would indicate a healthy weight for age and gender, while a ranking between the 85th and 95th percentile would be considered overweight. A BMI calculation equal to or greater than the 95th percentile indicates obesity. The CDC (2008b) recommends using BMI to screen for overweight and obesity in children beginning at age 2. BMI is not a diagnostic tool and should be used with other body composition assessments, such as bioelectrical impedance analysis (determines body fat through the impedance of a small electrical current passed through the body, as fat is a poor electrical conductor) (ACSM, 2006c), hydrostatic (underwater) weighing, and through the measure of skin-fold thickness at specific pre-determined sites (biceps, triceps, sub-scapula, crest of the ilium, or other sites) to determine obesity (excess fat).
The American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2005) have tabbed childhood obesity as one of the leading health threats in the United States. Thirteen million children are at risk for being overweight, and an additional 11 million are overweight. As a result, children are developing conditions and diseases that normally would be associated with adults, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. …
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Publication information: Article title: Fitness Fun for Everyone: Classroom Games and Activities to Support Reading and Math. Contributors: Andrews, Shirley P. - Author, Andrews, Stan - Author. Journal title: Childhood Education. Volume: 86. Issue: 2 Publication date: Winter 2009. Page number: 97+. © 2009 Association for Childhood Education International. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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