Adolescents who participate in physical education at
school are more likely to
maintain a normal weight as young adults, according to a
study by researchers at the
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
For each weekday of physical education at school, the
odds of being an overweight
adult decreased by 5 percent. Participation in all five
days of physical education
decreased the odds of being an overweight adult by 28
percent. The study is published in
the January edition of the journal Archives of Pediatric
and Adolescent Medicine.
"These findings underscore the important role that
extracurricular physical activities play in reducing the
likelihood of becoming an
overweight adult," said senior author Robert Wm. Blum, the
William H. Gates Sr.
Professor and Chair in
Population and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg
"While physical education was not a good weight-loss
mechanism over time, it appears to
have a positive impact in helping teenagers maintain a
healthy weight into young
The Johns Hopkins team studied 3,345 teens in grades
eight through 12 who took
part in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health, at which time they were
surveyed on their participation in physical education and
physical activities outside of
school. The researchers then followed up with the
participants five years after their
leaving school to check their height and weight.
The researchers found that increased participation in
physical education and
certain extracurricular physical activities decreased the
likelihood of being overweight as
an adult. The likelihood of being an overweight adult was
most reduced among teens who
participated in wheel-related extracurricular activities,
such as rollerblading, biking or
skate-boarding, more than four times per week. These teens
were more than twice as
likely to maintain a normal weight as adults compared to
their less active peers. However,
no impact was detected when physical activities were
performed fewer than three times
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Department
of Health and Human
Services recommend physical education at all grade levels.
Studies show that less than
half of high school students are enrolled in physical
education courses. Only 6 percent of
junior high schools and 5 percent of senior high schools
offer daily physical education,
according to the Institute of Medicine.
"Sixteen percent of adolescents in the United States
are overweight or obese, and
85 percent of obese teens will become obese adults.
School-based physical education
could be a low-cost strategy and a long-lasting solution to
adult obesity," Blum said.
The study was written by David Menschik, Saifuddin
Ahmed, Miriam H. Alexander
The research was supported in part by the William H.
Gates Sr. Endowment at the