Tue February 8, 2011

Colorado Legislature Moves Toward Requiring Physical Activity in Schools

In response to the growing trend of obesity among youth in Colorado, the state legislature is moving ahead with a bill that would require 30 minutes of physical activity every day for elementary students.

Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs), Education Committee chair and bill co-sponsor, said that, as a state, we are “trying to promote health and well-being among our student population.”

The bill (HB 11-069) would mandate all public schools offer physical activity that includes physical education classes, after-school activities, physical activity in the classroom, and field trips that incorporate some sort of physical activity.

Colorado is one of two states in the U.S. that do not require physical education in schools.

“One in four children in Colorado are overweight or obese,” said co-sponsor Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “Our kids are just not getting enough exercise.”

The House Education Committee passed the bill with a 12-1 vote on Monday, after overwhelming support during a public hearing.

Michelle Murphy, an attorney for the Colorado Association of School Boards, objected to the bill’s reporting obligations for schools. The committee removed that section.

Supporters included The Colorado Public Health Association, The Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado branch of the American Diabetes Association.

Colorado children had been some of the leanest in the nation, but from 2003 to 2007, their ranking plummeted from third to 23rd in the country.

“Our obesity rate grew faster than 47 other states in this last reporting period,” said Anne Warhover, president and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation.  “I know that there is a correlation between that statistic and the fact that we’re one of two states that doesn’t require physical education.”

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