Does gym class reduce likelihood of childhood obesity?

 In 1990 the state of Georgia introduced a statewide physical education requirement.

A recent study indicates that state laws mandating physical education minutes matters. "One study of kindergarteners to fifth graders across the U.S. found that physical education (PE) classes lowered body mass index (BMI) scores and reduced the probability of obesity among fifth graders. An additional hour of gym time lowered BMI for all children in the study by 0.5."

The CDC has indicated for some time that physical education and recess should be considered in the battle against obesity and that schools can contribute to the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity.

David Frisvold, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at Emory University and one of the study's authors suggests that the skills acquired during school physical education can influence a child's choice of after school activities and participation in sports activities.

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind schools across the nation have cut both physical education and recess minutes.  This study indicates that state laws do influence both the amount of physical activities children experience in schools and childhood obesity BMI rates. 

 Other information on the topic:

High Energy Fitness Fun Zone for Schools and Students

Peaceful Playgrounds Brings About Whole School Change

Peaceful Playgrounds Physical Activity Programs