Sound bodies, minds linked

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2002

Childhood obesity is finally being seen for what it is -- a major public health issue that poses a lifetime of physical and emotional problems for those afflicted.

An estimated 15 percent of American children are severely overweight or obese, a percentage that has grown significantly in recent decades.

The causes of this explosion in corpulence are numerous and well-known: excessive consumption of high-fat foods, a dining habit facilitated by the popularity of eating at fast-food restaurants; and something of a parallel decline in exercise, as more kids get their fun sitting in front of a computer or television set instead of running around outdoors. ...

It hasn't helped, either, that schools -- under enormous pressure to elevate test-score performance and provide time for a host of things beyond reading, writing and arithmetic -- have curtailed the amount of time devoted to physical education. ...

While recognizing that schools today attempt to cover a lot of ground in a typical school week, the educational process would be wise not to lose sight of the fact that a sound body is an important contributor to having a sound mind. Children need exercise as surely as they need caring parents, good teachers and inspiring role models. ...

A well-rounded student doesn't just master the books; he or she also masters the challenge of leading a healthy lifestyle and having a good outlook on life.

The evidence is overwhelming -- in youthful violence as well as childhood obesity -- that this important element of education needs to be firmly reintroduced into the curriculum of American schools.

-- The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

Nov. 11

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