Ortiz Applauds Report Highlighting Importance of Physical Education

NYC Report Finds Correlation Between Academic Achievement and Physical Fitness
July 16, 2009
(Brooklyn, NY) Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (51st AD- Brooklyn) today applauded a report done through a collaboration of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Health Department that showed a correlation between high levels of physical fitness and high levels of academic achievement.

The report found that during the 2007-2008 school year, students who scored in the top 5% on their NYC FITNESSGRAM assessments outscored the bottom 5% by an average of 36 percentile points on standardized academic tests.

The new report also examines childhood obesity in New York City. The findings suggest that 21% of kindergarten through eighth grade students are obese, and an additional 18% of the City’s students are overweight. As a long time advocate for legislation that halts the spread of childhood obesity and author of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Act, Ortiz applauded this report as yet more evidence that increased physical education and activity is needed both in and out of schools.

“This generation is on track to be the first generation to lead shorter, sicker lives than their parents. With 40% of our children at an unhealthy weight, among them an even larger percentage of minority children, something must be done,” said Ortiz.

“The long-term health of our students is very important,” said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. “The report’s findings send a clear message to schools, parents and healthcare providers to do everything possible to ensure that children receive the opportunities for physical activity and the proper nutrition that will help them stay fit and healthy.”

A joint statement from the NYC Department of Education and Department of Health included a list of tips for parents on raising healthy kids.

How to help children be fit and develop healthy eating habits:

  • Make sure kids get at least one hour of physical activity a day. Fun activities work best – try bicycling, dancing, jumping rope, playing basketball or going for a walk.
  • Limit children’s TV, video game and Internet use.
  • Prepare healthful meals at home. Offer children fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack.
  • Don’t let children drink their calories. Choose water and low-fat milk, not juice or high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas.
  • Encourage children to take advantage of healthy food choices provided at school.

Ortiz encourages parents to incorporate these tips into their daily lives while working to improve their own health at the same time. This Assembly session, Ortiz passed bills requiring calorie menu labeling in chain food service establishments as well as a ban on artificial trans fats in restaurants in an effort to improve the health of all New Yorkers.