Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS- The first ever national report card on physical fitness has been released and the grade is dismal. American kids earned a near failing grade. And the results can mean lifelong problems.

U.S. children received a D-when it comes to overall physical activity.

'It's so close to anF that it's really, really concerning. And the messageI really want parents to hear: it's not an optionfor your children to have physical activity. They need itso that they can develop properly,' said Dr. Melinda Sothern of the LSUHSC School of Public Health.She is the Director of Behavioral Health, Professor of Research and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist andProfessor.

Dr.Sothernwas one of only 11 experts who gathered the scientific data for the first ever U.S. report card on physical activity for children and youth. It was presented at acongressional fitness briefing on Capitol Hill this week. And the findingsnot only affect being obese, getting diabetes,ADHD, depression, bones, and muscles, but it also changesthe brain for life anditsability to learn and form permanent connections to the muscles.

'There are many studies that show that physically fit kids do better in the classroom.They make better grades. They do better on standardized tests,' she added.

And not only are children not getting at least the minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, they also are getting too much screen time, earning aD in sedentary behaviors.

'Sedentary behaviors are associated with every social problem, every cognitive problem, every school problem, every health problem there is.The more a child sits, the more likely they are to become obese. The more likely they areto develop diabetes.The more likely they are to have asthma,attention deficit disorder, even autism is related to sedentary behaviors,' Dr. Sothern explained.

She says change is crucial.

'So my recommendation is to wake up.I don't think that communities, parents, schools, government, industry, understand the reach of just providing children with opportunities to be physically active. It would be the game changer for health,' Said Dr. Sothern.

The full and summary reports are available online at

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