Bipartisan physical activity bill passes the Colorado House of Representatives
DENVER — Colorado's House of Representatives today passed House Bill 1069 by a vote of 39-26, demonstrating great leadership on behalf of Colorado's children. This bipartisan measure requires all public elementary schools to provide students with a minimum of 600 minutes of physical activity a month (30 minutes per school day).
HB 1069 is an important step in addressing Colorado's rapidly increasing childhood obesity rate, while helping students succeed in school. The Colorado Health Foundation, LiveWell Colorado, the Colorado Children's Campaign, the Colorado Public Health Association and many others support the legislation sponsored by State Reps. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. HB 1069 now advances to the Colorado Senate, with Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, as the sponsor.
Why HB 1069 is important for our state:
- Colorado is one of only two states in the nation that doesn't require physical education — at any grade level.
- Between 2003 and 2007, Colorado's childhood-obesity national ranking dropped from 3rd leanest to 23rd. Meanwhile, the number of obese 10- to 17-year olds rose from 48,000 to 72,000. This surge represents the second-fastest rate of increase in the nation.
- Nearly one-third of all children in Colorado live in neighborhoods or communities without a park, playground, recreation center or another safe place to play, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Inadequate physical activity, paired with a poor diet, are two of the leading causes of obesity.
- Eighty-six percent of Coloradans surveyed supported requiring at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day in Colorado's schools, according to 2008 data.
"Research proves that active, healthy children perform better in school," said Anne Warhover, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation. "They are more likely to be engaged learners, do better in school and have improved attendance. They are also less likely to display behavioral problems inside and outside the classroom."
"Providing opportunities for physical activity during the school day is vitally important for children's physical and mental health — particularly for children who lack adequate opportunities for play outside of school hours," said Kyle Legleiter, president of the Colorado Public Health Association. "Fortunately, schools have several options for providing opportunities for students to be active, from recess to PE to simple activities that integrate movement into instructional classroom time," said Legleiter.
"Research shows that minority children and children in poverty are most likely to be overweight," said Cody Belzley, vice president of health initiatives at the Colorado Children's Campaign. "In Colorado, Hispanic children are more than two times as likely to be overweight than white children and children living in poverty are more than three times as likely to be overweight than children in higher-income families. Minority and low-income children are also more likely to struggle in school than their more affluent and white counterparts. Expanding access to physical activity in schools is a smart and easy way to help close both the health and educational gaps for our most vulnerable kids," Belzley said.
"LiveWell Colorado provides support to many communities partnering with schools to increase physical activity for students," said Maren Stewart, president and CEO of LiveWell Colorado. "For example, in Pueblo, teachers use an inexpensive deck of 'activity cards' to get kids moving in the classroom during a lesson. In Longmont, schools are creatively painting pavement with hopscotch and other games to encourage kids to be more active during recess and after school. This bill highlights the importance of physical activity in schools, a key component in increasing academic performance and preventing childhood obesity in Colorado."
About the Colorado Children's Campaign
The Colorado Children's Campaign is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy organization focused on improving access to and the quality of child health, K-12 education and early childhood development. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.
About the Colorado Public Health Association
The Colorado Public Health Association is Colorado's largest association of public health professionals. The Association brings together people, groups and organizations from across the state to support and advocate for public and environmental health in Colorado. For more information, please visit www.coloradopublichealth.org.
LiveWell Colorado is a nonprofit organization committed to preventing and reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living. Leading a comprehensive approach, LiveWell Colorado inspires and advances policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that aim to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in the places they live, work, learn and play. For more information about LiveWell Colorado, visit www.livewellcolorado.org.
About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by increasing the number of Coloradans with health insurance, ensuring they have access to quality, coordinated care and encouraging healthy living. The Foundation invests in the community through grants and initiatives to health-related nonprofits that focus on these goals, as well as operating medical education programs to increase the health care workforce. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org.