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Oklahoma Lawmaker Proposes Mandated Fitness Assessments for Children

Oklahoma Lawmaker Proposes Mandated Fitness Assessments for Children

Inch tape just lying on the floor
The proposed bill coincides with the American Academy of Pediatrics first comprehensive guideline on treating childhood obesity

An Oklahoma lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require students to take an annual fitness test.

The assessment would determine how healthy the children are and would assist state agencies in shaping health policies based on the results.

Oklahoma does acknowledge higher-than-normal obesity rates, with 32.3% of its children ages 10-17 classified as overweight or obese, compared to the national average of 32.1%.

Centennial Clock, Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Dept. of Health also indicates a 4.6% increase in obesity in the last two years, with the state named as one of the most obese states in America. 

House Bill 2257, authored by Oklahoma Rep. Danny Sterling, proposes the fitness assessment would begin in the 2024-2025 school year with approval by the State Board of Education for students in grades 3-12.

Trained personnel would administer the assessment, such as a school nurse, physical education or health teacher, coach, or another certified school employee.

The school district wouldn’t be required to administer the annual fitness test to students with disabilities or other conditions.

The assessment instrument, which the State Department of Education would adopt, would be used by all school districts and would be based on aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility and includes standards specific to a student’s age and gender.

The school districts will then report to the Board and the State Department of Health the results of each student’s performance, with anonymity.

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According to the proposed bill, a copy of the physical fitness assessment results would be provided to parents and guardians.

Once the results have been analyzed by the State Departments of Education and Health, the two entities will look for any correlations between the results and student obesity, attendance levels, academic achievement levels, student disciplinary problems, and school meal programs.

The Republican state representative proposed a similar bill in 2022, which passed in the House but stalled in the legislative session.

Coinciding with the proposed bill in Oklahoma, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued its first comprehensive guideline on evaluating and treating children and adolescents with obesity. The AAP stated that over 14.4 million children and teens in the U.S. live with obesity, which they refer to as a common chronic disease in the report.

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