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Student's fitness should begin at home, not school

December 11, 2004

James Jones

Regarding the Dec. 1 Daily Pilot story, "Students outpace averages in

fitness," I agree with most parents of our community: 70% of our

children being physically unfit is unacceptable.

According to State Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, a

statewide study provides convincing evidence that the physical

wellness of students has a direct impact on their ability to achieve

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academically. Part of the test is a test for obesity, "body

composition," defined by the state's 2003-04 California Physical

Fitness Test as "an estimate of the percent of a student's weight

that is fat in contrast to the 'fat-free' body mass made up of

muscles, bones, and organs."

The best performing elementary schools, according to data from the

statewide fitness test on fifth-graders, are at Newport Coast (8.1%)

and Lincoln (9.2%). That is, 8.1% and 9.2% of fifth-graders

respectively at the schools are not in the so-called "Healthy Fitness

Zone." Students are fully in the zone when they meet certain fitness

standards set forth by the test. The worst two performing elementary

schools are Rea (49%) and Adams (34.2%).

It turns out that Lincoln and Newport Coast have some of the

lowest numbers of free meal programs (4% to 5%). At Rea, 92% of the

children get free meals and at Adams, 68% of the children get free

meals. The meals are served before school, during recess and lunch.

The data here suggest our problem is not under-nourishment, but a

lack of exercise.

We should encourage parents to provide proper nourishment to their

children before they come to school, so the schools can focus on

education and physical fitness.

Shame on all of us to allow obesity to be such a issue in our

elementary schools. We are creating children that will have a

lifetime of health issues.

* JAMES JONES is a resident of Costa Mesa.

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