July 28, 2009

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decries dwindling recess

Three cheers for Kathleen Sebelius! At a conference on obesity sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention July 28, our Health and Human Services Secretary criticized schools cutting recess and eliminating physical education from their curricula. 

"We've not only been fattening our children, but we've been dumbing them down by not giving them a physical regime," something that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also recognized, Sebelius said. (Hear, hear!)

She also enumerated several frightening statistics, including:

  • Scientists estimate that due to complications related to childhood obesity, today's youngsters could be the first generation to live fewer years than their parents.
  • The direct medical costs of obesity total about $147 billion annually, almost twice the amount since the CDC first considered costs in 1998, and more than $50 billion more than is spent fighting cancer each year, according to a study funded by the CDC Foundation and released Monday.

(Source: LA Times)

The CDC also just released a report with 24 recommendations for stemming the tide of the obesity epidemic in America. The recommendations include:

  • Communities should require physical education in schools
  • Communities should increase the amount of physical activity in PE programs in schools
  • Communities should increase opportunities for extracurricular physical activity
  • Communities should reduce screen time in public service venues
  • Communities should improve access to outdoor recreational facilities
  • Communities should enhance personal safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active
  • Communities should enhance traffic safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active

You can read the full report here.

It's great to see outdoor recreation areas getting attention in their recommendations, as well as kids' opportunities to be physically active. It's worth noting that their recommendation about extracurricular physical activity specifically excludes organized sports where people are required to try out, but rather focuses on dance classes and game opportunities that are open to everyone.

the buzz in play, studies, obesity, cdc, health