Yesterday we spent some time in a park with some other homeschoolers. The kids spent all their time running, walking, climbing... being very active. Not one of the kids is overweight. I thought about other homeschoolers I know. No overweight kids. My own J is not real slim, but he's muscular and big and solid, not fat. Occasionally I'll notice him getting a little "fluffy" around the middle - and I'll realize that I've been a little too free with the desserts, or he hasn't been active lately. So I cut back on dessert and send him outside to work or play, and the fluff disappears. (If only my fluff would go away so easily.)
Of course we see headlines periodically about the obesity epidemic among kids. As I watched our slender, active children, I wondered if someone would ever do a study on obesity rates of homeschooled vs. schooled children. Maybe even break it down between public and private-schooled kids.
At my church, kids are mostly homeschooled or go to Christian school; a small percentage go to public school. I can't think of an overweight kid at church. Not saying that there is a link between weight and religious affiliation, or that there are no overweight Christians. I am a Christian, and I am overweight. But still - you'd think there'd be some overweight kids in that group.
I'm just relating my experience and observations; this is all anecdotal evidence. Don't tell me I'm wrong!
Today these stats graced the front page of our local paper:
25% of Oregon 8th graders are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.
11% of Oregon 11th graders are overweight, a 63% increase from 2001 to 2005.
Nationwide, 16% of children ages 12-19 are overweight, three times the rate of 1985.
Schoolkids don't have time to run and play the way homeschooled kids do - at least, the homeschooled kids I know. Even at home, when we're in between schoolish activities, my kids will just get up and jump around the living room. My little E will finish a math lesson and go do some somersaults. I don't guess that's OK to do in a classroom full of kids. Schools cancel recess. Some that have recess don't allow active games like tag. Some schoolteachers take kids on "power walks." (don't remember where I saw that.)
None of the kids in our park group brought handheld electronic games with them. I think some of the kids have games like this. Mine does. But we don't think to bring it to the park. When my J was in Little League, I used to see kids on the playground, sitting around playing electronic games. They were almost always overweight.
Maybe if instead of chatting with the moms while my kids run around the park, I'd run around with them, maybe I wouldn't be overweight. Whadya think?
Anyway, I think that'd be an interesting study. No one will ever do it, but it's worth thinking about.