Staff Editorial; Cutting the fat

By Duke Staff


There are two areas that the United States seems to fail at keeping in check – budgeting and weight gain. It’s no secret that the United States is the most obese country in the world, with approximately 34 percent of adult Americans classified as obese, according to the latest Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD survey. It’s even less of a secret that the U.S. government treats passing a budget as a somewhat optional task, because it is always done last minute.

Our schools have become where both problems converge into something even bigger. Due to budget cuts and department cutbacks across the nation, public primary schools are reducing or even eliminating physical education programs for students.

According to an article in Monday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brad Cardinal, an exercise and sport science professor at Oregon State University, who conducted a study on the number of colleges and universities with physical education programs, thinks that all colleges and universities should begin to require students to take phys ed again.

Cardinal finds it “alarming” that students aren’t required to take phys ed as part of their higher learning. His study found that only 39 percent of college students are required to take physical education courses today, compared to 97 percent of college students in 1920.

While Cardinal is right about the importance of being healthy, reinstituting physical education requirements in college is unrealistic.

For K-12 students, physical education is a necessity. Children and teens should learn the proper ways to exercise and stay healthy. It is important for children to begin learning these skills at a young age so that they can continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s also important for educators to find creative ways to teach physical education so that children see it as an enjoyable activity rather than a boring requirement.

For young adults in college, it’s not our schools’ responsibility to make sure we take care of ourselves. At this age, it’s time for us to begin to manage our time and make room for what we think is important. If schools were to institute mandatory physical education classes, many students would see it as a hassle and not take it seriously.

By building state-of-the-art gyms and offering fitness classes, nutritionists and health coaches available to students, colleges and universities are doing the right thing. Force feeding students fitness information won’t entice them to hit the gym, but making the facilities and information available to them when they want it will give students the opportunity to make their own decisions.