Texas, with 19 percent of its youth obese, ranks sixth among states having the highest obesity rates. Experts predict that 70 percent of these children will become obese adults. A parallel epidemic to obesity is type 2 diabetes. One-third of children born after 2000 will develop the disease in their lifetime. The health and economic consequences are significant.
In June 2007, the Texas Senate passed a bill mandating increased physical activity, the most comprehensive youth fitness initiative to date. The first step in this long-term program was to test the current fitness of Texas students, an effort that was accomplished on target by June 2008.
The preface to this special supplement presents the 10 articles that analyze and evaluate the Texas Youth Fitness Study from a number of perspectives: epidemiology, measurement and evaluation, pedagogy and psychology. The articles were reviewed by a panel of 15 experts from around the country and reflect the work of the Cooper Institute and its three research partners for the project: Iowa State University, the University of Illinois and the University of North Texas.
The results presented here provide insight for policy-makers and legislators in other states considering similar large-scale fitness testing mandates.