Cool entry on the “Alas, A Blog” blogÂ Â questioningÂ the conventional wisdom that holds: If onlyÂ kids had more gym, health and nutrition classes, they’d all slim down. An eight-year study of about 1700 kids gave half of them a greatly enhancedÂ gym/nutrition/health curriculum (and healthier cafeteria food), while the other half got the same old same old.Â Kids were measured in third grade and again in fifth and surprise (there goes the grant!), there was no difference in the two groups as far as weight was concerned.
TheÂ “Alas” bloggerÂ rightly asks whether weight should matter anyway: If the group with the gym curriculum was more active, happy or fit,Â that certainly seems more important than whether they could squeeze into smaller undies. ButÂ MY point is that I’m not surprised by the outcome,Â because it’s not just gymÂ that makes a difference in kids’ lives. It’s what kids do OUTSIDE of school, too.
When principals forbid them to ride their bikes to school (and I’ll post a another Outrage about that soon),Â whenÂ parentsÂ are afraid to let themÂ go to the park, whenÂ their friends are not allowed to venture out the front door, what can kids do before or after school except hang out inside?
And what generally happens there? They’re not jogging in place while poking around YouTube. And if they’reÂ watching TV, cue theÂ dancingÂ Pop-Tarts!Â EvenÂ organized sports programs don’t offer the insurance of exercise (or fun).Â When my kids were playing on our local Y’s baseball team, they stood around for about 60 of the 90 minutes, waiting in the outfield for a ball that never came, or waiting for their turn at bat that felt like it would never come, or eating theÂ snack that always DID come, because we parents were required to schlep it. (Why was snackÂ a requirement, anyway?)
In short:Â We can program as much health as we want into the curriculum, and as the sister of a former high school health-ed teacher, I say: Yay! Let’s do it! I’m all for health class. BUTÂ until we start letting kids get out there and organize their own games of tag, and kick ball and roll down the steep, rocky hill (okay, maybe not that one — Free-Range has its limits), they’re going to be inside. Who’sÂ dancing and prancing and gettingÂ all thatÂ healthy exercise inÂ there?
Looks like theÂ Pop-Tarts.Â — Lenore, who thanks Kelly Hogaboom for sending this story in.Â Kelly’s blog is right here!