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Only 25% of teens meet fitness guidelines

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Dear LA Teacher,

First Lady Michelle Obama launched her anti-obesity campaign, Let’s Move, in 2010. How’s that working out?

Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent,

The National Youth Health Fitness Survey reports only 1 in 4 American teens between the ages of 12 to 15 meet the recommendations of an hour or more of moderate to vigorous daily activity. These results are based on the self-reported activity levels of 800 children who had physical exams as part of the 2012 National Youth Fitness Survey.

The physical activity most reported by the youth outside of PE class was basketball for boys and jogging for girls.

Guidelines were established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services back in 2008 to raise the activity level of our children outside of their school’s gym class. The idea is to raise their heart rates. About 25% of the kids taking the survey reported that they accomplished that level of exercise daily.

Dr. Stephen Pont, and Austin, Texas pediatrician and chairman of the American Academy of Pediatric section on obesity weighed in on the dilemma. In an Associated Press interview, Pont said, “It’s definitely very concerning to see that our kids are engaging in such a limited amount of physical activity each day when we are still battling an obesity epidemic.” The obesity rate for children between the ages of 2 to 19 is 17 percent. That means 12.5 million kids are obese.

Dr. Pont believes schools can help squelch the obesity problem by not cutting recess and giving kids more PE time. He points to research that suggests that kids getting physical education at school do better academically.

Fighting obesity and potato couch kids is not just a job for the American educational system. Parents need to set the bar. Kids model their behavior after their parents. If moms and dads take the time to participate with their children in a physical activity that raises heart rates for over a half hour daily, we’d all be better off.

Best wishes,
LA Teacher

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