Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Youth Fitness Specialist

I was walking to the library the other day and saw a sign that was hanging out in front of a house. It was a large banner that was an advertisement for a "Youth Fitness Specialist." Personally I had never considered the need for youth fitness specialists. I want to be right up front in saying that I realize that I am not the "physical specimen" that I was in my late 20s and early 30s. I have put on a few pounds since then and probably could benefit from a fitness specialist myself. Unfortunately some of the current statistics on child obesity say that there actually may be a need for our youth to have fitness specialists as well:

  • Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese.
  • Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.
  • There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents. In 2007–2008, Hispanic boys, aged 2 to 19 years,were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white boys, and non-Hispanic black girls were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white girls.
I don't mean to get into all of the socio-economic realities that lead to certain demographic differences in obesity. I don't even want to get into any scientific or dietary reasons either. What I am about to say comes more from observation and anecdote.

My mom and dad would never have considered using a youth fitness specialists. They were youth fitness specialists. My brother and I were not allowed to watch much tv or play any video games growing up. In the summer time we were shooed out of the house. We ended up playing baseball, football, riding bikes, play in the playground and we were generally active. We just needed to be in the house before either the streetlights or our porch light came on. I remember having to hustle home more than once to avoid getting into trouble.

Far too often today when I pass by a playground it is empty. I did see one child playing in a playground as I was walking home from the library. The basketball courts by our church seem to be one of the few exceptions. There are a lot of people playing basketball although they seem to be mostly high school or older. There still are not a lot of younger kids out there playing.

What is troubling is that we have turned what should be a natural–kids outside burning up tons of energy–into a rare occasion. There are many reasons and excuses that we can give for this. But it seems that we need to do something. The health of the children of this country depend upon it.


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