Childhood Obesity Prevention and the Cost of Obesity



Exercise 4 Learning: A New Method in Obesity Prevention

National obesity rates are staggering and educational programs geared towards obesity prevention have been forgettable, at best. The Center for Disease Control reports that as of 2010, 33.8 percent of Americans were obese.

With Colorado statistically being the leanest state in the nation, the cost of obesity is still estimated at a dreadful level of $874 million a year.* As public health officials and medical providers scrutinize the data and express concern, policy makers consider ways to respond to the obesity epidemic. In Colorado, legislators passed HB 11- 1069 requiring each school board to adopt a policy incorporating a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week in elementary school student’s schedules.

Phil Lawler Exercise4Learning (E4L) takes a more comprehensive approach. E4L implements three methods in schools that lead to more fit and academically ready students: movement-based learning in the school environment, obesity prevention instruction, and creating a school culture of wellness. PLE4LP introduces fitness-based physical education (PE), coaches teachers to incorporate physical activity (PA) into their daily lesson plans, teaches a student about their own “energy” balance, and guides wellness committees on ways to change and sustain their own school culture of wellness. Physical, behavioral, and academic outcomes are measured.

PLE4P is named for Phil Lawler, widely viewed as the father of the “New Physical Education”.Lawler’s vision and approach for obesity prevention fostered a paradigm shift not only in the delivery of PE, but throughout all of education. Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation supported the first E4L program at Bauder Elementary in Fort Collins, with school staff embracing the concept of movement-based learning. Survey results showed the majority of teachers increased the physical activity of their students up to six times a day and the school will continue to use the PLE4LP tools in the future to continue their culture of wellness.

Let’s move our Colorado schools toward a sustainable, effective model that lowers the cost of obesity, improves the learning capabilities of our students and let’s duplicate it in schools throughout the state.
*Brownell PhD, Kelly; Co-Founder and Director, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.