W.I.T.S. is pleased to introduce, Paulette Kowalski! Paulette will be our guest blogger for the month of October as we focus on childhood obesity. Paulette is a member of the W.I.T.S. faculty, on our curriculum development team, and also runs her own successful Personal Fitness business. WELCOME PAULETTE!
In October, W.I.T.S. will focus on the childhood and youth obesity epidemic. It has happened before our very eyes, and the information presented in the next month will enlighten you on a variety of topics from the history of this epidemic, motivating children and parents, your role as a fitness professional, and more. This series goes beyond business strategy and focuses on how to change youth lives, the heart of why people choose fitness as a profession. I urge you to stay tuned each week for our posts and create discussions around this topic, not only with us, but among your fellow fitness professionals. Read on for the October introduction…
“Video Killed the Radio Star” AND started the Childhood Obesity Epidemic?
So how did we get here as a Nation? Let’s face it, the American lifestyle is much different than it was leading up to 1980. Some would argue that electronics started the epidemic, as big names in gaming (Nintendo, Atari, etc.) were just becoming popular, and television was going through major changes.
We went from playing sports and dancing, to viewing ESPN’s first broadcast and the first music video on TV in 1979 (Video Killed the Radio Star). Shortly after, in 1984, Cable launched several stations. Our rise in inactivity occurred just as packaged foods became popular. After much research, these foods were found to have additives, preservatives, and trans-fats, which did not show up on labels until 25 years later (2006). Let’s not forget the intake of red meats and sweets (high in saturated fats) was also on the rise during this time. It’s a fact, our abdominals had no choice in their disappearance. Taking these facts into consideration, it is no surprise that the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980.
We have more opportunities to move, why are we less fit?
Shouldn’t we have seen a decrease in obesity over the past 30-40 years with the implementation of government programs and regulations? For instances, Title IX gave women the equal opportunity to play sports at academic institutions starting in 1972. This resulted in greater movement opportunities for female school-aged youth and young adults. Think about it, half the population was given greater opportunity to move in their younger years and it did not prevent the adolescent obesity epidemic. How? Why?
Are we teaching young people to enjoy active lifestyles?
Part of the problem is mentioned above, but the other problem is that not everyone enjoys competitive aspects of movement, or movement at all. That’s where we come in, but our profession wasn’t thought to be in great demand until recently. So our activities of daily living were decreasing and our endorphins for movement weren’t being stimulated. A vicious circle that leads to disease. To be drastic, we do not sow seeds in the fields anymore, and our lifestyle changed from walking to school or work, to play dates at the McDonald’s playground and parent meetings at Panera. I know, I know, you get the point and I am preaching to the choir.
Is the Let’s Move Campaign getting us moving?
While there is momentum towards a healthier Nation, the problem could be viewed as an existing snowball effect that puts our children at risk for type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and asthma; not to mention depression and anxiety at a younger age. All of this is taken into adulthood, and our healthcare system is forced to lean toward treatment instead of prevention. Some would speculate that this could lead to a change in our nation’s economic growth and security, and increase the socioeconomic barriers that are thought to cause obesity. The “Let’s Move” campaign has recognized these issues and placed an emphasis on prevention. Fitness professionals have been heard!
Recently, statistics have come out from the “Let’s Move” campaign that obesity rates have dropped by 43% in ages 2-5 over the past 10 years. We should note that more research needs to be done to replicate these statistics, but this gives health and wellness professionals hope that we are moving in a very positive direction and prevention programs are working.
WE MUST TAKE ACTION! IT’S OUR JOB!
Our responsibility as fitness professionals, is to keep this momentum the same way we would during a sporting event. It is Fitness Professionals vs. the Obesity Epidemic. We need to focus and motivate these young people to move in the present and future. This goes beyond Title IX and the “Let’s Move” campaign, though this campaign has created several financial avenues for our business.
With momentum on our side, we need to take action. We need to create programs in our fitness centers and schools that encourage both parent and child involvement, youth movement outside of sports camps, awareness of lifestyle sports (i.e. walking, golf, tennis, bowling, etc.); I would even group music and art involvement in this category because it is movement, and stimulates the brain in similar ways.
We need to teach the youth what activity vs. exercise means, and most importantly, we need to become the coach/mentor we admired growing up. Our youth need examples to follow, phrases and patterns to fall back on during hard times, because of the very reflections you are having now. Movement does help our youth manage life in adulthood and you know from experience!
So, if you are on board with my points above, help W.I.T.S. help you to set foundations for today’s youth and stay tuned for the following, and shorter, blogs this month:
- Activity and Inactivity in Youth Obesity: Dodgeball vs. Dodging Requirements.
- Role of Diet in Youth Obesity: Implementing Choose My Plate for Family Dynamics.
- Socioeconomic Issues: Resources Revealed.
- School, Sports, & Community Recreation Programs.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come:” Personal Training for Youth & Parents.
- “When I Was Young We Walked Uphill, Both Ways:” Adopting Lifelong Exercise Habits.
- Fitness Professionals as Role Models: Be the Coach You Admired.
If you are interested in learning more about Childhood Obesity, sign up for our monthly webinar. There are spots available in our October 2nd: 3pm EST; October 15th: 2:30pm EST; and October 16th: 3:30pm EST. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT
- Faigenbaum and Westcott; Youth Strength Training, Human Kinetics 2009.
- Meredith and Welk; FitnessGram and ActivityGram Test Administration Manual, Human Kinetics 2010.