According to a story in this morning's Tennessean, legislators in Tennessee are working on a childhood obesity reduction bill which would require schools to have 90 minutes of physical education classes a week and would add a 1 cent per drink tax on all sodas. This is nothing new; nationwide, legislators at every level of government are drafting bills to tackle the childhood obesity "epidemic."
To bad none of these efforts will result in slimmer kids.
I don't have a problem with PE classes (although I don't think PE is especially necessary), but I do have a problem with schools being told how to design certain programs. Local shool officials should be able to make these decisions. And while soda taxes might appear to be a good idea, overwhelming research demonstrates that they do nothing to sway people to choose low-sugar drinks. In fact, when sodas were banned from some schools, kids simply switched to sugared teas, juices and other high-sugar drinks (in many cases, these drinks contain more sugar than soda).
More importantly, these taxes don't even reach their targeted demographic as studies show obese people generally drink diet soda. So, you're taxing the wrong people and doing nothing to bring down the obesity rate. That's government at work!
A variety of issues contribute to childhood obesity; bad eating habits, lack of sleep, too much television, etc. The best way to solve this problem isn't with legislation directed at one or two of the contributing factors. Instead, children need their parents to take a bigger role in their lives. Kids need parents that are involved in their nutrition. They need parents who have opinions about their food choices and help guide them to make good food decisions. Kids need parents who teach them about self control, moderation and the importance of exercise. Parents should at least try to have family dinners several times a week. And for goodness sake, parents need to turn the television off at 7:30 and tell their kids to go to bed.
These are the basics of parenting and its the only thing that will help kids grown up to be healthy adults with good eating habits. Schools should teach our children reading, writing and arithmatic; not ensure they keep a svelte figure.