P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2002
'Return Daily Exercise to the School Day in Texas'
FLOWER MOUND - A dramatic rise in juvenile diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses will only worsen if the State Board of Education fails to implement the necessary rules to return PE to the school day in Texas, State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, warned tonight as the vote loomed on rules implementing Senate Bill 19.
Under this legislation authored by Senator Nelson and approved in the 2001 legislative session, the SBOE was directed to adopt rules requiring that students in elementary school receive at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day. Reports out of the SBOE indicate that certain members want to eliminate the daily requirement and merely direct school districts to ensure that exercise is part of the curriculum.
"We are up against a major health epidemic among our youth, and I fully expect the State Board to live up to its responsibility to protect the health of our children. The Legislature instructed them to return daily exercise to the curriculum, and that is what they need to do," Senator Nelson said. "Our children are in bad shape. Doctors are treating in young adolescents a form of diabetes usually only found in 45-year-old men, and that is directly related to inactivity and obesity. Our kids need our help."
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.