In this photo taken May 26, 2009 Betty Hale, center, instructs a physical education class in a 100-year-old gymnasium at Eberhart Elementary School in Chicago. Although the school has a newer gym, for much of the day it doubles as a cafeteria where the school's 1,800-plus students are offered breakfast and lunch. Time and space limitations mean each class gets physical education just once a week for 40 minutes. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
CHICAGO (AP) - In the fight against childhood obesity, getting kids moving is one of the most effective ways to combat the problem.
but only Massachusetts and Illinois require P.E. classes for all kids in kindergarten through 12th grade -- and even that is not keeping children and young adults from getting fat.
In Illinois, an estimated 20.7 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese - the fourth-highest rate in the country, behind only Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that about one-third of Americans ages 2 to 19 are overweight, and 17 percent are obese.
Health experts recommend 30 minutes of daily physical education for elementary school students, and 45 minutes for those in junior high and high school.
But in a recent CDC study, less than 4 percent of elementary schools, less than 8 percent of middle schools and just over 2 percent of high schools required daily P.E. for all students for the entire school year.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)