Education

State lawmakers take on childhood obesity

Posted July 2, 2010 3:46 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT

Obesity in children has doubled in the past 12 years.(WRAL-TV5 News)

— Lawmakers hope that proposed changes to physical education in public schools will help fight obesity among children in North Carolina.

Research shows that one out of every three teenagers in North Carolina is overweight or obese.

"We've got to do something about it. We can't just sit by and let it happen," said Rob Morrow, executive director of the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

The group of health and physical educators has thrown its support behind two bills: H.B. 1757, which would establish standards for fitness testing from kindergarten through 12th grade, and H.B. 901, which would create some honors physical education courses.

The goal is to get children active early and encourage them to stay active, Morrow said.

"If you haven't formed the habits in elementary school, it's hard to go back and learn to take care of your body," he said.

H.B. 901 has been passed by the General Assembly and is awaiting Gov. Bev Perdue's signature to make it law. H.B. 1757 has been passed by the House of Representatives and is before the Senate.

A sponsor of both bills, Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange County, said she is also supporting a push to create new nutritional guidelines for public schools.

"We're really giving our children information and giving them health options," she said. "This won't do away with junk food in schools. It will add healthy options."

It's important to tackle the problem of childhood obesity as soon as possible, Insko said.

"It's really time for us to get alarmed about the health of our young people. This is really a health and wellness initiative," she said.