P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2001
AUSTIN - In response to record obesity levels and an alarming rise in juvenile diabetes, Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, today called on the Legislature to add exercise to the school day in Texas for public school students in kindergarten through 8th grade.
"Next to smoking, obesity and inactivity are the most serious risks to our health and can lead to several deadly diseases, including diabetes. Many of our children are eating unhealthy foods and leading sedentary lives with virtually no exercise," she said. "This is a serious health epidemic. If we do not reverse the trend, our children will pay dearly for it down the road."
Senator Nelson was joined today at a news conference by former UT Football Coach Darrell Royal and other supporters of Senate Bill 19, filed by Senator Nelson to address adolescent obesity, which the Surgeon General has declared an epidemic. Also in support were the Texas Medical Association; American Heart Association; Texas Parent-Teacher Association; Texas Cancer Council; and other health organizations. Other facts:
- PE is not required for students below grade 9. Students must receive 1.5 credits of PE as part of graduation requirements.
- The percentage of students who attend a daily PE class dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 27 percent in 1997, according to Centers for Disease Control.
- According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 14 percent of children 6 to 11 are overweight.
- Nearly 20 percent of overweight children remain overweight as adults.
- Diabetes kills 180,000 Americans a year and is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and loss of limbs.
- A new British study shows that children who exercise more tend to score higher on academic exams.