Blog Post by regular guest blogger, Jamie Sparks, Coordinated School Health Director at Kentucky Department of Education @JamieSparksCSH
One score and three years ago, the first states in America that began to collect obesity rates, were recorded in the 15-19% range of total population for adult obesity (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#History). Now, here we sit (pun intended) twenty-three years later, and no state is currently below the 20% mark. Many will claim that obesity is a complex and multifaceted issue. While this is true to some degree, it is for the majority of the population a very simple equation: energy in versus energy out. Energy in is the amount of food/calories we put into our body, energy out is the measure of amount of physical activity we participate in.
For the purposes of this blog, I want to focus on the issue of inadequate physical activity in our culture. Physical activity competes with many things in today's fast paced, technology dominated world. Modern conveniences have contributed, especially the many varied forms of "screen time". Training our mind to engage by watching and listening while not moving, equates to a decrease in energy expended. Our root issue is much deeper than simply technology. It is an issue of illiteracy, more specifically physical illiteracy. Physical literacy is an emerging term that embodies the concept that students have knowledge, skills and confidence to live a physically active lifestyle. This pattern has continued to grow due to a lack of education in schools as well as a lack of education at home. These two settings are the bedrock of what "shapes" norms for behavior and frankly the norms we have produced have created a modern day plague. This plague stems from a lack of access for young people to obtain rich learning experiences nor adequate time to develop physical literacy within the context of a quality physical education program. The role of the physical education program must shift and must be given higher priority in order for this plague to end. All across the country, physical education time competes with high stakes testing connected to school accountability.
In the next series of blogs I will present a practical approach that is being transformed to position schools to be that agent of change from a common sense perspective called comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP). Stay tuned!