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Physical education being left behind
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Editor: While the Bush administration commemorates the fifth anniversary of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (Jan. 8), they forgot that they have left some critical school programs behind.
An unintended consequence of this oversight has been the reduction in quality physical education (PE) across the country – particularly here in Georgia.
Cuts in PE come at a time when we’re facing a childhood obesity epidemic that puts our children at greater risk of developing heart disease as adults. Over nine million children and adolescents ages 6-19 are considered overweight and the numbers will likely increase unless we educate them about healthy lifestyles. PE promotes lifelong physical activity while providing an opportunity to be active during the school day.
We need to find ways to incorporate more quality PE and activity into our children’s lives, not less.
Congress has an opportunity to right this wrong and help millions of children lead healthier lives when they reauthorize No Child Left Behind.
All of us can play a role by encouraging our lawmakers to raise the profile of PE during this reauthorization and give our kids a head start on being healthy and fit for life.
What better lesson could children learn at school than how to be healthier throughout their lives?

Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, FACP
Past President Georgia Affiliate,
American Heart Association
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