Would Mandatory PE Classes Protect Against Obesity?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2007 Volume 18, Number 1
©2007 Gürze Books

One suggestion to combat childhood obesity is to make physical education (PE) classes mandatory. If this hypothesis turned out to be true, it could be assumed that children who participate in PE more frequently would be thinner, on average, than children who don’t participate as often. Drs. Monica Baskin and David Allison, of Birmingham, AL, evaluated data from a national telephone survey taken in May 2004 (the ABC News/Time Magazine Obesity Poll). A random sample of adults 18 and older answered questions about themselves and all children aged 6-17 years in the household. There were 282 respondents, and information was gathered about sex, ethnicity, education, height, weight, and other demographic information. The results of the study cast doubt on the theory that making PE classes mandatory and/or increasing the frequency with which children participate in PE classes would have an effect upon childhood obesity. For such classes to be effective, their format, frequency, and intensity would have to be changed, according to the authors. Drs. Baskin and Allison presented the results of their study at the 2006 Obesity Society national meeting in Boston October 2-4.

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