Childhood Obesity Becoming Major Public Threat
April, 2008 - Issue #42
In early December the Wall Street Journal reported that a large new study shows strong links between children's weight and their risk of developing heart disease in adulthood. Researchers found that as kids ages 7 to 13 gained even moderate weight, their risk of illness increased; the greater the increase in weight, the higher the risk of illness.

This report of more than 270,000 children from 1930 to 1976 makes clear what most parents already know - the youth fitness crisis in America is real and, as the U.S. Surgeon General stated, kids today are expected to live shorter lives than their parents.
It is up to parents to make sure their kids love fitness activities and stay enrolled. The problem is that youth sports are often so competitive that unfit kids rarely experience success and wind up quitting. While we perceive youth sports as a solution to the youth fitness crisis, the research tells us that for many it is really one of the causes.

To find positive youth sports programs parents need to look to the philosophy of the organization and the skills of coaches in creating success for all children, not just the most talented. To do this parents should look for programs that define winning as "personal best" instead of better than others. Teachers need to be positive, fun and trained to help all children learn safely at their own level of skill readiness. Keep in mind that your child's positive sports experiences can help develop life-long fitness habits and positive self-esteem, while a negative sports experience can drive a child away from fitness activities for years.

Jeff Lulla is the founder and president of Fun and Fit Gymnastics Centers.
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