News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, July 26, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Starting this fall, schools across the state of Georgia will implement the Student Health and Physical Education Act. Because of this, every student will be required to take a FitnessGram test this upcoming school year.
In an effort to shrink the number of students that are overweight, the state is helping parents become more informed about their students' health.
"I think the data is going to be very important," said Stacey Mabray with the Richmond County Board of Education. "It's going to help us see trends and pockets where we need to pay more attention."
That data will come from the FitnessGram. The bill requires each school to test their students through the program for aerobic abilities, flexibility and their body mass index.
"We'll be able to analyze body fat and send home some really pertinent info to parents on how fit their child really is," Mabray said.
It's an important step in the right direction for GHSU's Dr. Catherine Davis who is researching a group of overweight young adults.
"Health wise, we found number of the kids have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease," Davis said.
She's also seeing early signs of heart disease in kids as young as 9 years old. To keep up their physical activity, she's put a few incentives in place. When students go in for the study, they get a heart monitor. After a few minutes of physical activity, they can see their heart rate on their wristwatch. The higher numbers get bigger prizes. The goal is for them to get their heart rate up to 150 beats per minute.
"A 20-minute exercise after school helps, but it takes 40 minutes to make a measurable difference in reducing risk for diabetes in overweight kids," Davis said.
She is also looking at the link between better physical health and performing better in class.
"You gotta do something. Can't just call it personal responsibility when they are 9 years old," she said.
With the FitnessGram data, the schools will have a new way of determining which changes to make.
"Our physical education teachers will utilize that data on where they are gonna go on fitness programs within schools," Mabray said.
Physical education teachers will go through training this fall on the FitnessGram software. Schools in Richmond County plan to administer the test in January. School administrators are hoping once parents get their child's results, they'll take action by enrolling them in more after-school activities or other programs through places like the Family Y.
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