HONOLULU -- Several health organizations in Hawaii are urging the state Board of Education to double the amount of time that students in public elementary and middle schools spend in physical education classes, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
The health groups, which include the American Cancer, Heart and Diabetes associations as well as the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, suggest 150 minutes of P.E. a week for elementary school students and 225 minutes of P.E. a week for middle school students. The state Department of Education currently recommends 45 minutes for students in kindergarten through third grade, 55 minutes in grades 4-5 and 107 minutes for sixth-graders.
State data shows that one-third of Hawaii public school students consider themselves overweight, and seven out of 10 high school students do not get enough exercise, the newspaper reported.
Stephen Bradley, a doctor at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, who is advocating for more P.E. time, says Hawaii’s childhood obesity rate is growing twice as fast as the national level, which has doubled in the last 20 years.
“I’ve treated 250-pound 8-year-olds and 500-pound 16-year-olds,” Bradley told the newspaper. “We are at that level. Obviously, these are limited cases, but they are out there, and we just have to tackle this problem now.”