Obese adolescent perceptions of physical education
Hite, Penny Dalton
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American youth have been found to be more obese (OB) today than at any other time in our history. Three in ten school-aged children in the United States (US) are OB. This represents a three-fold increase since 1980 (Hoeger & Hoeger, 2011). Should this trend continue, by 2030 nearly one in two school-aged children in the US will be OB (Levi, Segal, St. Laurent, Lang, & Rayburn, 2012). Eighty percent of these youth will become OB adults (Dietz, 2004). Physical Education is one response to the current obesity epidemic in the United States. The literature indicates much attention has been given to causal interventions including over-consumption, poor nutrition and sedentary living- all with only marginal success. This dissertation examines the perspective of OB adolescent students concerning Physical Education (PE). Using a qualitative approach, 34 OB and non-obese (NOB) middle-schools students were interviewed about their lived experiences in PE to answer the questions: Do OB children feel welcomed into PE classes by both their PE teachers and classmates? From instruction received in PE class, do OB students receive the information and skills necessary to help them lead a healthy life? What are OB students' perceptions of PE? Comparisons were made within and between the groups. The participants' responses indicate we should have concern about the well-being of the OB student in PE class. This concern is for their mental as well as physical wellness as they describe being targets of bullying, suffering physical pain, being humiliated and isolated, all as the result of the actions and inactions of the PE teacher. The data is particularly strong concerning how the classroom management and curricular decisions of the PE teacher have affected the OB adolescent student. In closing, the role PE can play to better educate the OB student as well as potential implication for how we prepare future PE professionals to teach OB students is discussed.