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At the moment, it looks like we’re losing the fight against inactivity and obesity in our young people. We are raising the most sedentary and unhealthy generation in American history: Its members may have the dubious distinction of being the first generation not to outlive their parents.Meaningful, high-quality health and physical education is one of the best strategies we have to reverse this trend. And, not only does good HPE increase the chances that our young people will live healthier, more productive lifespans, it pays off in the classroom, as well.Let’s look at some of the reasons we’re in our current physical condition, and how and why we can start changing attitudes, in both the younger and older populations, about healthy living and exercise.Clearly, we have a problem with childhood obesity in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children (ages 2-5) and adolescents (ages 12-19), and it has more than tripled for children ages 6-11. Our young people are spending way too many hours in front of computer and television screens and way too few hours engaged in heart-pumping physical activity. I call electronic devices such as the Wii, Xbox, PlayStation, etc., the “toys of obesity.” Further complicating matters are programs such as No Child Left Behind and our current statewide budget problems, which often lead policymakers to consider cutting certain programs not seen as “essential,” including the arts and HPE.
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