P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2001
AUSTIN - The Texas House today gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 19, authored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to combat record obesity levels and an alarming rise in diabetes among adolescents by returning physical exercise to the school day in Texas. The bill faces a final vote on third reading before returning to the Senate with amendments.
"Our children are experiencing serious health problems that are usually only diagnosed in 45-year-old men, and obesity is the primary reason. Far too many of our children are sitting at their desks all day at school and in front of TVs or computers all night, failing to get the exercise they need to be healthy," Senator Nelson said. "We must take action to reverse this frightening health trend, and we need to teach our children to take care of their bodies. This lesson is as fundamental as reading and writing."
Specifically, the bill directs the State Board of Education to implement rules requiring daily exercise for Texas public school students in grades K - 6. Limiting the bill to elementary school students removed the fiscal impact as elementary teachers are already PE certified during the certification process. The bill also directs TEA to provide school districts with a coordinated health program, including health education, exercise, nutrition and parental involvement.
PE currently is not required for students below grade 9. Students must receive 1.5 credits of PE as part of graduation requirements. It was a daily requirement for grades K-4 and a weekly requirement for Grades 5-6 before the 1995 reform of the Texas Education Code, but no daily or weekly requirements exist today. Consider also that:
- The percentage of students who receive daily exercise in the school day dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 27 percent in 1997, according to CDC.
- According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 14 percent of children 6 to 11 are overweight. Obesity is the most serious health risk next to smoking.
- Nearly 20 percent of overweight children remain overweight as adults.
- Physical inactivity is second only to smoking as the greatest health risk factor.
- Diabetes kills 180,000 Americans a year and is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and loss of limbs.
- Diabetes rose by 33 percent between 1990 and 1998 and another 6 percent in 1999, according to CDC.
- A new British study shows that children who exercise more tend to score higher on academic exams.