Schools are faced with the challenge of helping children keep their weight within a healthy range (University of the State of New York, n.d.). According to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Physical Education and Health Web site (n.d.), physical education is "a course in the curriculum which utilizes learning in the cognitive, affective and psycho motor domains in a play or movement exploration setting." By allotting time for physical education in each grade's curriculum and choosing age-appropriate activities, schools can help manage childhood obesity and the physical and emotional problems that come with it (New York State Education Department, n.d.).
About one out of three children now considered overweight or obese (Nemours Foundation, 2009b). Obesity is determined by Body Mass Index (BMI) which uses weight and height to calculate a number that can be used as a surrogate for body fat percentage (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). To determine whether a child is overweight, his or her BMI can be plotted on one of the BMI Growth Charts that are published by the Centers for Disease Control (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). A child whose weight is at the 85th to just below the 95th percentile is considered overweight. A child whose weight is at the 95th percentile or higher is considered obese (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.).
Obesity in the U.S. is now being seen in very young children. The rates are race-specific. In a four-year study of four-year-olds by Anderson & Whitaker (2009), Native Americans and Native Alaskans had the highest rates of obesity (31%), Hispanics, Blacks, and Caucasians had progressively lower rates (22%, 21%, and 16% respectively), and Asians had the lowest rates (13%).
The Multiple Effects of Childhood Obesity
A USA Today article ("Fla. Elementary students required...," 2008) lists the physical effects of childhood obesity by organ system, a description of which...