Childhood obesity rates climbed 10% for all United States children and 18% for female children between 2003 and 2007, according to a recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (July 2010; 164 [7], 598–607). Utah and Mississippi showed an overweight prevalence of 23.1% and 44.5%, respectively, among kids aged 10–17 years. A separate study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010; 92 [5], 1257–64) found that the global rate of overweight and obesity in kids under 5 rose from 4.2% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2010—with that trend expected to continue.

Despite such troublesome statistics, some schools are proving that this prediction does not have to become reality. For example, educators in Canyon Country, California, have implemented a technology-based physical education program to help their schoolchildren avoid becoming part of the overweight statistics. This “New P.E.” program at Sierra Vista Junior High utilizes Polar® heart rate training to achieve success. “By using heart rate monitors to track intensity during workouts, students can learn the physical activity level that is right for them and that will bring the most benefit,” stated a press release. Teachers collect data from the monitors to assess each student’s efforts.

Since the program’s inception in 2003, physical activity scores have significantly improved. “This has propelled [Sierra Vista] to the top spot in California for junior high schools. They have also seen a significant drop in discipline referrals and absenteeism.” Further, students have increased scores on the Academic Performance Index by 10%. For more information on this program, visit www.polar.fi/us-en/b2b_products/physical_education.