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ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Fighting Childhood Obesity in Indiana

by Jake Steinfeld | Aug 27, 2012

Experts fear that this generation of children might be the first to have shorter life expectancies than their parents, due in large part to the childhood obesity epidemic.

More than 23 million American children and teenagers are considered overweight or obese. It’s an epidemic that continues to plague this country.

It is debilitating physically, but also significantly affects our already-fragile health care system. Simply put, we can’t afford to let this epidemic grow.

Those affected by childhood obesity are at serious risk for developing health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and other problems that normally affect adults. Each year, childhood obesity costs $14 billion in direct health costs. In Indiana alone, this disease affects 14.6 percent of your children.

Over the years, I’ve dedicated my efforts to raising awareness about childhood obesity and have made progress on this front. However, we have a long way to go.

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, which gives us a great chance to openly discuss this disease and share insights into what’s being done — and what can be done — to combat it.

Fighting obesity isn’t easy, and it will take a lot of helping hands to get, and keep us, on the right track. Parents, health care providers, organizations, educators and others are key to making a positive impact on the health of our children.

In fact, all these groups were instrumental in supporting my efforts to launch a fitness campaign in California that grew to 1.4 million students in 2011. All took part in a monthlong fitness challenge.

Over seven years, we saw a decrease in childhood obesity rates in California and, as a beneficial side effect, schools that participated in the campaign witnessed increased academic scores.

The “California project” had such a positive impact on the health of kids that I decided to expand the program nationwide. We created the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, a multimillion-dollar physical fitness campaign. This new program seeks to encourage and reward innovation in the field of youth fitness by awarding state-of-the-art Live Positively Fitness Centers to schools that use new and unique methods to promote student physical activity and wellness.

Making this campaign even greater is the fact that it doesn’t rely on taxpayers or state funding. It’s fully funded through a public-private-sector partnership with companies like Coca-Cola. This year alone, we will put fitness centers in schools throughout Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts.

The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils program will roll out in Indiana within the next year and eventually will include all 50 states. Our goal is to have fitness centers in every elementary and middle school in America.

As we recognize September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we can celebrate knowing we are tackling this issue head on and that the more people we get on board, the greater success we will have in making childhood obesity a thing of the past.

Studies have shown that physical activity improves academic achievement, increases confidence/self-esteem and reduces discipline problems. I’ve always thought that academics and fitness go hand in hand and, if you give schools the tools, students will excel. What’s clear is, if we can help students become passionate about being physically fit, it will pay off substantially in the long run.

My motto in life has always been, “Don’t Quit!” Don’t quit on yourself, don’t quit on your family and don’t quit on the great state of Indiana. I encourage parents, educators and community leaders to visit www.nationalgovcouncil.org during Childhood Obesity Awareness Month to learn more about the steps Indiana can take to participate in the program and to reap the rewards being physically fit can provide.

Jake Steinfeld is chairman of
the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils and is chairman and CEO of Body by Jake Global — www.bodybyjake.com.

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