Honolulu Lite


Schools need to get physical
with kids’ eating habits

The Department of Education is considering cutting back the physical education program, a move that some worry will turn our little McDonald's-stuffed butterballs into even larger butterballs.

It's true that kids today are 84 percent fatter than when we were kids. But it's not their fault. They've been Super Sized. They've been Big Gulped. They've been Jumbo Jacked. They've been 99-Cent Value Mealed into the largest children on earth. The largest children in the HISTORY of the earth.

Why? Because not one of them has ever eaten a Brussels sprout. (I doubt they even know what a Brussels sprout is. They would probably think it is a young lad from Belgium, if they knew what Belgium was.) They are large because their idea of exercise is to ride an escalator at the mall. And because PE at school is a joke.

Look, when you are consuming 5,000 calories a day, most of them deep-fried, a half-hour of kicking a soccer ball around isn't going to keep you svelte. You'd have to play soccer for 14 hours straight to burn off the calories of a Double Whopper with Cheese, large fries and a Coke the size of a corn silo.

PROPONENTS OF PE will say that any exercise is better than none.

Hah. I remember PE. First of all, there was very little P and absolutely no E. As far as the "physical" side of phys ed goes, we were herded onto a dusty field and told to either play softball or football. Softball consisted of the meanest, toughest kids in the school commandeering the ball and taking turns playing "bean the haole" or bean whoever it was who was stupid enough to step up to the plate with a bat.

Football was even worse: 20 or 30 kids on each side running around like deranged wildebeests trying to make sure they didn't come in contact with the football, which would have resulted in a vicious gang tackle. The high school football coach also was a PE teacher. He was forced to try to teach us tennis one day, even though he thought it was a girlie sport and didn't know anything about it. I remember his only suggestion was to "hit the ball as hard as you can." We actually did get exercise that day, shagging all the tennis balls that were rocketed around campus.

There was no education in physical education. Anything we learned, we learned on our own. Like never, ever take a shower in the locker room after PE or else your clothes would disappear leaving you butt-naked the rest of the day. And your BVDs would be hoisted on the flagpole.

PE today should consist of teaching kids to quit eating so damn much. But that's too hard. It's easier just to sue the fast-food companies for dishing out so much cheap grub. Maybe we should replace physical education with health education. Show them films of a 400-pound man having open-heart surgery. That'll curb their appetite. Convince them to participate in after-school sports. Several hours on the football field or in the swimming pool not only will get them in shape and keep them out of their parents' hair, it will keep them from chowing down after school.

And finally, make sure the kids eat Brussels sprouts. Sure, they're green, disgusting and taste like puddle water, but have you ever seen an obese Belgian?

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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