Should P-16 Physical Education Programs Focus More on Wellness and Obesity Prevention Objectives and Goals?

JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, November-December 2011 | Go to article overview

Should P-16 Physical Education Programs Focus More on Wellness and Obesity Prevention Objectives and Goals?


Physical education should not focus more on obesity--it is broader and more important than that. A failure to deliver on obesity-based promises could push physical education closer to the curricular chopping block. Worse than being removed from schools is the idea of having physical educators turn gymnasiums and school yards into boot camp. Results can certainly be obtained that way, but at the price of turning children away from physical activity for life. It is possible to help students become physically active and knowledgeable about fitness (and thereby indirectly affect obesity) in physical education. Focus on meaningfully and mindfully meeting national standards and making every child in America physically literate and active, not on physical education impacting obesity.

--Jay Cameron, Instructor, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.

I do believe P-16 education programs should focus more on wellness and obesity prevention objectives and goals. I especially think more attention to this should be given in the early childhood and K-12 levels. Today kids are more sedentary than past generations and, as a result, they have a higher incidence of obesity and related diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Sedentary lifestyles are not the sole reason for these increases--poor eating habits are also to blame. Kids spend too much time watching television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, social networking, and texting. On top of that, schools, parents, and society as a whole are not providing them with good examples for how often they should exercise, what they should eat, and how they should prepare their meals.

I think we should stop focusing on teaching kids to be competent in psychomotor skills so that they can participate in games, and focus more on physical fitness and good old calisthenics, similar to how it was back in the early 1900s. I have heard some people say that focusing only on physical fitness is not the answer. But I say, "How is it not the answer? "Teaching kids how to play games is fun on a temporary basis, but does it really teach them to be physically active for a lifetime? I do not think it does. I am not saying that we should completely remove that aspect from our programs, but I am saying that we should make it a secondary focus and put more into wellness education, obesity prevention through the adoption of healthy eating habits, and daily physical fitness. A good example to look at is the trend in the fitness industry these days. More and more commercials, DVDs, and gyms are adopting a back-to-the-basics approach. In my opinion, I have not seen more in-shape people than I have over the past five years or so, since that trend really took off. The same can happen in our schools if we adopt a similar approach. All we have to do is stay consistent, starting from early childhood through secondary education, and the problem of childhood obesity will be a thing of the past.

--Isaac Hooks, student, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

I am a physical education teacher at a boarding school that focuses on weight loss for obese teens, and it blows my mind every year how many of our students come to us 100 or more pounds overweight and do not understand how they got there. They honestly do not know what is wrong with their habits. Children and young adults learn from their environment, and they do not know a behavior is wrong until it has been corrected. If students' home environment is unhealthy and they are surrounded by media pushing fast food and sedentary lifestyles, where are they going to learn healthy habits if not in school? Obesity is an epidemic causing an outrageous amount of preventable deaths, not to mention billions of dollars in health care expenses. Opening students' eyes to the long-term effects of being overweight and teaching them the benefits of healthy habits at a young age is extremely important. Incorporating a greater focus on wellness and obesity prevention is a must. …

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