Obesity: Education and Experiment Essay

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An experiment was done by a few researchers that wanted to see what effect physical education taught by specialist would have on elementary school kids. The experiment also was aimed at finding out if physical education helped out in academic achievement. The name of the experiment is Physical Education, Obesity, and Academic Achievement: A 2-Year Longitudinal Investigation of Australian Elementary School Children. The authors behind this experiment are Richard D. Telford, Ross B. Cunningham, Robert Fitzgerald, Lisa S. Olive, Laurence Prosser, Xiaoli Jiang, Rohan M Telford. The basis of the experiment was to find out whether PE (Physical Education) taught by specialist contributed to development academically, along with prevention of obesity in elementary school children. They didn't choose a side, they were just trying to collect data to see the effects. There was no definite hypothesis statement. Prior information on the experiment says that schools have always had to work on increasing literacy and numeracy proficiency but now are faced with trying to prevent obesity too. Physical activity is implied at the obesity end directly but there is evidence that it may benefit cognitive development as well (Hillmam, Erickson, Kramer 2008). In Australia the government elementary schools have PE that is conducted by a general classroom teacher, with little or no physical education training. In the States less time is being put towards PE because of literacy and numeracy test issued by the government (Coe, Pivarnik, Womack, Reeves, Malina, Thomas 2004, 2006). The Australian government has recently added national literacy and numeracy test to their education system. Publications summarizing the writting provide education authorities with a small incentive to pay more attention to physical education, whether it be on academic grounds or in relation to prevention of childhood obesity (Trudeau, Shepard 2008). Researchers that conducted meta-analysis found little evidence to support the claim that school-based physical activity programs were effective in combating childhood obesity (Harris, Kuramoto, Schulzer, Retllack 2009). More positive conclusions may have emerged if the studies were involved in the review and meta-analysis conditions. In order to be successful in PE you need trained and motivated teachers with well-designed programs which wasn't the case in the study (Bailey 2006). There were seven quasi-experimental studies in the review conducted by Trudeau and Shephard from which they concluded that time spent on PE did not have any negative impact on academic achievement (Truduea, Shephard 2008). The participants in the experiment where elementary school kids that were initially in third grade and ended in fifth grade. There was 620 participants both male and female, which were a part of the Lifestyle of Our Kids study. The boys and girls were part of the study for two years. The children's ethnic descent was 86 percent White, 8 percent Asian, 3 percent Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait, 1 percent Polynesian and 2 percent of the data was missing. The method these researchers used was simple and straight forward. They used a multilevel randomized quasi-experimental design which had an intervention conducted by meeting with each group. The researchers invited thirty schools to take part in their experiment and twenty-nine accepted. They randomly assigned thirteen schools with the specialist for PE, and sixteen schools did the common-practice PE. They matched the schools in terms of socioeconomic status of the suburbs, facilities and teaching methods. They also matched the average family income based on the data given to them by the Australian Government Bureau of Statistics. They also ensured that each teaching method wouldn't have influence on the other by spacing the schools far enough apart geographically. Both sides of the experiment reported that the kids received an average of 150 minutes per week of PE.