PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND OVERWEIGHT
Results from the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey show
that almost two-thirds (62.6 percent) of high school students regularly
participated in sufficient vigorous physical activity, and almost
one-quarter (24.7 percent) participated in sufficient moderate physical
activity. Just over half (51.9 percent) performed regular strengthening
exercises, while 57.6 percent played on one or more sports teams.
Nationwide, 55.7 percent of students were enrolled in a physical
education class, although the percentage is far higher in the younger
grades (71 percent of 9th graders) than in the older grades (39.5
percent of 12th graders). The percentage of students attending daily
physical education classes has dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to
28.4 percent in 2003.
While 29.6 percent of high school students described themselves
as overweight in 2003, 43.8 percent of students were trying to lose
weight. Among all racial and ethnic groups, males were more likely
to be overweight, while females were more likely to perceive themselves
as such. Among high-school males, 17.4 percent were overweight compared
to 9.4 percent of females, while 36.1 percent of females described
themselves as overweight compared to 23.5 percent of males.
In an attempt to lose weight or to prevent themselves from gaining
weight, 42.2 percent of students engaged in healthy behaviors such
as eating less food, fewer calories, or foods lower in fat. In addition,
57.1 percent of students exercised for the same purpose. Females
were more likely to engage in such weight control behaviors than
males; 56.2 percent of females used food as a way to control weight
compared to 28.9 percent of males, and 65.7 percent used exercise
compared to 49 percent of males. In contrast to these healthy behaviors,
13.3 percent of students went without eating for more than 24 hours
in an attempt to lose weight, 9.2 percent took diet pills, powders,
or liquids without the advice of a doctor, and 6.0 percent vomited
or took laxatives. Again, such behaviors are more common among female
students than males.
Initiative provides credible, accurate information about physical
fitness, nutrition, and prevention to help Americans of all ages
to make healthy choices.