Banning Recess Boosts Childhood Obesity

With the plague of obesity hitting America's children so very hard, and more people than ever recognizing it, I don't understand why a growing number of school districts are curtailing one of the best and most natural things they can do to stop this epidemic dead in its tracks.

Schools and districts in the United States are banning traditional childhood games -- soccer, touch football and even tag -- solely because educators believe they're dangerous, even though some health experts, like me, believe doing so can harm a child's development, not to mention his or her health.

Their excuse: Because kids aren't supervised very well during recess, a growing number of them were getting hurt and, sometimes, breaking bones. To that end, some schools do allow kids to play games in gym classes with supervision. But what about so many others that don't have the money or facilities?

Although retooling school cafeteria menus is certainly sound, robbing our children of the opportunity to play may be the first step toward condemning them to a life plagued with health problems as they get older.

Don't be blind to the little problem staring you in the eyes every day. If you have any doubts, please review the seven risk factors for childhood obesity I posted last year.

USA Today June 27, 2006

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