The number of people in the United States who are overweight or obese is steadily increasing and threatens to reverse many of the health gains reported in recent decades. According to government statistics, obesity rates among adults have doubled since 1980, with an estimated 61 percent considered overweight by 1999. The problem is not limited to adults; the number of overweight children and adolescents has tripled since 1980.
It sometimes seems schools around the country are contributing more to sedentary living among today’s youth than they are promoting the benefits of exercise. Only one state—Illinois—requires daily physical education (PE) for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade, while only one other—Alabama—requires daily PE for children in kindergarten through eighth grade, according to the latest Shape of the Nation Report, conducted by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.