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Overweight Youth - A Growing Epidemic
Last Updated: 11/17/2009

On November 12, 2009 CNN reported on a story that every teacher, administrator, school board member and parent should read. Essentially the report noted that:

  • Children are not playing outside or at school as much as their parents did.
  • The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents has tripled since 1970.
  • American youth are becoming obese because they are addicted to TV, video games, texting and fast food.
  • These youths will have heart disease when 35-50 years old, resulting in more hospitalizations, medical procedures, medications, missed work days and shortened life expectancy.

The solutions to this problem are already in place. While not expensive, as in a government overhaul of the health care system or continuation of the present system, these ideas do work to help children slow undesirable weight gain. These are:

  • Require more physical education classes
  • Improve the nutritional value of school meals and snacks
  • Encourage children to play more sports and games
  • Put away video games, computers and the TV for at least an hour a day
  • Tell your children to go outside and play with others

The latter point may seem challenging for today's "helicopter" parents who hover over their child's every move. The truth is, except in dangerous neighborhoods, "kids are safer than ever before...Unless parents live in awful neighborhoods they should encourage their kids to play outside with others and take common sense safety precautions," says Russell Pate, PhD, an American Heart Association spokesman.

I can say "Amen" to Russ Pate and the other people cited in this report. Next time I will report on a study I conducted at the University of Michigan showing the tragedy of poor economic status on children's weight and body fat status. To me it provides a powerful argument for regular, daily physical education.

Charlie Kuntzleman, Co-owner

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