PE Classes Strive to Combat Skyrocketing Campus Obesity Rate

Adam Gonzalez and Jonathan Nguyen

     Fall is finally here and many students are eagerly counting down the days to Halloween and Thanksgiving.

     When people think about these two holidays, they mostly think about spending time with family but what really goes on is a feeding frenzy as kids all around the world (mostly just America)  fill their mouths with sugary and fattening foods.

     Many people love to eat. It’s become ones of America’s favorite past times. What people don’t think about is the negative effects that eating can cause on health. It can cause problems to the human body physically and mentally. Too much of a good thing can lead to being overweight or obese, diabetes, low self-esteem, and depression.

     One of these many diseases has even taken a toll on students at River City High School. That disease is obesity.

     Obesity is a condition where a child or adult is overweight for their age or height. Obesity can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, or even in some instances can even cause high cholesterol which ultimately can lead to heart attacks, one of America’s top killers. Obesity can also lead to low-self esteem, behavior and learning problems, being bullied, or even depression. Over all a devastating disease.

     An overwhelming 64% of River City High School students are obese.

     To counter this horrific statistic, River City High is asking students to maintain a mandatory exercise log. Although this exercise log is only for one semester, it’s specifically meant to be the semester that students don’t have P.E, to keep active. Students must add to this log during Building foundations for success (a mandatory class all freshman must take).

     Students have the option to log any type of exercise ranging from cardiovascular, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility. The only requirements of this exercise log are that you have to record and participate in at least 200 minutes of exercise a week outside of school.

     Students at River City High School are also taught about watching their diet. In their mandatory BFFS they are taught about their diet and what they should eat. They watch documentaries such as What the Health which teach you what your truly putting in your body and the effect it can have on your health.

     “I think the biggest thing is to find something you enjoy doing because if you don’t like running and you force yourself to run, you’re not gonna enjoy it,” said Sarah Mankewich, a Physical education teacher at River City High school. “There’s some physical activity you’re going to enjoy no matter who you are. There’s always somebody else to do with whether it’s working out or having an accountability partner or just having someone to shoot hoops with. Having a friend just makes it a lot more enjoyable.

     Students also exercise and get fit own their own time through school sports and other extracurricular activities.

     Brian Tran, a sophomore at River City High stays healthy by playing sports and eating healthy.

     “I do wrestling and tennis. I also eat protein and carbs, go on runs, and I do Calisthenics,” he said.

     Tran explained that his eating habits differ between sports.

     ”I can eat whatever I want during tennis. Every day after wrestling practice I have to hop on a scale. If I was gaining too much weight, I wouldn’t be able to compete in my weight class and I would have to compete a weight class above.”  

     P.E. teachers try to help by giving different opportunities to their students to play different sports that they normally wouldn’t.

     “Also within our classes we try to give [students] a bunch of opportunities to do different sports,” Mankewich explains.  

     “One of the things I do in my leisure sports class is lacrosse,” she said. “A lot of people either don’t know what lacrosse is or have never played in their life and it is kind of fun to learn a new sport and helps get them out of their comfort zone so that their not just playing the same sports since elementary school.

     “If they realize ‘Hey this is a new sport I didn’t know about’ I’m hoping it will kind of peak their curiosity to even reach out on their own to try new sports,” she said.

     As you can see, Physical Education teachers do care about their students health and try their best to keep their students in shape.

     Even teachers and faculty maintain their health in different ways here at River City High School. Mankewich also explains about how she does Taekwondo and martial arts. She also coaches other sports.

     ”I coach, for the last 6 seasons, I’ve coached little league baseball. We also started coaching  youth rugby club last year here in west sac, so my husband and i both coach that.” Many of the teachers here at River City High coach sports.

     As a matter of fact Timothy O’Donnell, an English and journalism teacher at River City High School, also bikes to school from Davis. O’Donnell says that he tries to bike at least once a week to work and also bikes a lot more over the weekend.

     Junior Paul Zacarias also plays sports for River City. He explains, “I was never really in good shape because I did nothing at home except eat. [Playing] Varsity at such a young age was physically demanding because I was one of the smallest guys on the team. It felt like everyone was just bigger.”  

     Zacarias was shocked to learn that 64 percent of River City is obese or overweight.

     “I’m honestly surprised. That’s way too many people not fit,” he said. “What helped me lose weight was just motivation to not be fat anymore. You should at least have one hour of exercise every day.”

     “I do believe anyone can lose weight it’s not impossible,” added Junior Ramiro Rodriguez. Rodriguez plays varsity soccer at River City.

     “[I started playing] because I was fat and lazy. I started playing [soccer] and it was pretty fun so i kept playing.”

     Rodriguez agrees with Zacarias that diet isn’t everything when trying to get into shape or lose weight. Rodriguez says, “Honestly eating healthy makes it easier to lose weight but it’s not something you need to do. You can not eat healthy at all but if you exercise a lot you’ll still be losing weight.

     Although River City High School and it’s students are doing what they can to counter the 64%, is it all for nothing?

     Lunch time at River City High School is hectic with long lines that extend far past the different food stations. There are different foods, some healthy and some unhealthy.

     The unhealthy heavily outweighs the healthy. Some of the main courses consist of greasy pizza, fried orange chicken, spicy chicken sandwiches, burgers with fries, pasta and even a taco bowl made of unhealthy meat and beans.

     The only healthy food served at lunch are the salads and it’s the least chosen.

     Not only does the school serve unhealthy choices for food but they also choose to sell sugary candy and snacks such as Gatorades, Hot Cheetos, shaved ice, and Rice Krispie Treats.

Assuming that all the money goes towards the school does the school really want you to be healthy.

     If students actually followed what they are taught in basic health then they wouldn’t buy half of the stuff sold at lunch. Does the school really want you to be healthy or are they really just preying on your insecurities and hoping that you’ll buy their expensive, sugary snacks.

     Day after day more and more students feed on the unhealthy food sold at lunch which makes any attempt made by River CIty High School of keeping their students healthy physically useless.

If you don’t eat the unhealthy food served at lunch and you exercise a lot chances are that you’re probably in pretty good shape and part of the minority of River City High School.

This statistic can change over time.

     Over the following years River City High School should be able to counter this static. Whether they change it through more physical activities or even changing meal courses at lunch. Any of these things can make a difference.

     “No matter what, our numbers are probably going to drop off this year. We just need to use that data and make changes for next year and keep tweaking it and get something that does work .” explained Mankewich.

     At the end of the day, the health of River City comes down to the students. They have to decide what is beneficial or detrimental for their health and to make smart decisions. They have the option and opportunities to make changes to their health. Whether they want to or not the choice is theirs.

     “Just keep trying, keep running there’s always motivation and I promise there’s a lot you can gain from it” said Ramiro Rodriguez.

     Most of the students that are part of the 64% of obese kids at River City want to make a change for their health. Others are lazy or simply have no time do anything.

     Hopefully River City will become healthier for the better of the students and the campus.