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Nov. 16, 2017WEST DES MOINES, Iowa |  By: Nienow

U.S. obesity rates are becoming a national security issue

Iowa educators and the American Heart Association say poor childhood health – including obesity rates – have reached a critical level that's impacting far more than just the individuals whose health is at risk. Brian Rhoads, a physical education curriculum leader with West Des Moines Community Schools, says it's becoming a national security issue.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, is in its first year which means states have an initial opportunity to present a plan addressing student assessments, school accountability, funding, and support for struggling schools.

The words "physical education" only appear once in Iowa's lengthy draft and are only used in reference to elementary school standards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 4 young adults are too heavy to serve in our military. Research from the American Heart Association shows that 95 percent of parents with children under 18 want physical education to be part of their child's overall education. Rhoads says he's concerned, however, that the issue is not being prioritized and resources could actually decrease further.

In recent years, state budget woes have led to physical education curriculum cuts. According to the CDC, the Department of Defense, our nation’s largest employer, spends about $1.5 billion annually in obesity-related health care costs for current and former service members and their families, as well as costs to replace unfit personnel.