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Oregon PE teachers enter brave new world

October 27, 2008
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The next time you watch your kid's gym class, you may not see students doing laps and playing dodgeball. Try juggling and geocaching instead.

As some states, like Oregon, move to teach fitness and nutrition to a new generation, hallowed physical-education traditions are morphing into a more rigorous curriculum that emphasizes specific skills, building self-esteem, and reducing alarming obesity rates. All that and textbooks, too.

The state PE effort is a targeted response to the growing obesity and health problems facing young people today, supporters say.

One in four Oregon eighth- and 11th-graders is overweight or at risk of becoming so. Oregon ranked 23rd highest for overweight youths in a 2007 report by Trust for America's Health, which noted that the state's efforts to combat obesity lag behind those in more than a dozen states that have raised school-nutrition standards and screened students for obesity and fitness.

In 2003, the state spent more than $781 million on obesity-related medical costs.

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