One in three children, 17 and younger, in the United States are obese or overweight. This is a huge number and it continues to increase each day. If this statistic were to apply to CHS, it would mean 1,477 teenagers, just in this school, would be overweight or obese. That’s equal to the entire senior class and about half of the junior class. However, also increasing in today’s society is the amount of prevention and other types of programs that teach families and children about obesity, what leads to it, the effects of it and how to prevent it. One of the best programs currently out there is the NFL PLAY 60 challenge.
PLAY 60, according to nflrush.com, is a program designed to eliminate obesity in children. The idea of PLAY 60 is to encourage kids to play or be active for 60 minutes each day, just as how the NFL players play 60 minutes each game.
“We are taking a leadership role in the movement to get youngsters fit,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said about the campaign. “Our players know the importance of staying healthy and it’s important that young fans also understand the value of exercise. PLAY 60 is an important tool in ensuring children get their necessary daily physical activity as recommended by health and fitness experts.”
The PLAY 60 challenge was first launched in October of 2007. From catchy television advertisements to their regular community events, the NFL has been persistently spreading its message for the past three years. The NFL has also created many resources to go along with the program, some of which include the PLAY 60 Challenge Take Home Resources book and the Cheerbook. The Take Home Resources book educates parents on keeping their kids active and gives them other resources to promote family fitness, while the Cheerbook includes 25 ways to keep young students motivated and active.
The campaign is not only supporting a necessary cause, but is also using well-known faces to do so. Many popular NFL players, such as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have traveled to schools and other events to speak about the importance of fitness and nutrition. With an estimated 106.5 million people tuning into last year’s super bowl, NFL players seem to be some of the most recognizable people in the country.
Although national statistics state that around a third of kids and teens are overweight, it seems, though, that CHS doesn’t exactly fit this average. It is likely that proper education in these subjects is one thing that can attribute to this difference. With a wide selection of nutrition, health and physical education classes, CHS seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to properly educating students on nutrition and fitness. Although school and state standards only require two semesters of physical education (or only one if you are involved in a school sport) and one semester of Health or Interpersonal Relations, the school also many nutrition and fitness-related electives. Some such classes include Orientation to Foods and Nutrition and Physical Conditioning.
Outside of the classroom, CHS also offers many sports, both school-sanctioned and intramural. According to Assistant Athletic Director Bruce Wolfe, in the average year at CHS, approximately 28% of students here are involved in school-sanctioned sports alone. However, not all schools have as many options as CHS, especially elementary schools. According to nfl.com only 8% of elementary schools provide daily physical education.
Childhood obesity is a major problem with the current generation of kids and teenagers. In fact, according to the nfl.com, 92% of Americans say that it is a significant issue in today’s society. However, the numbers just keep increasing. Sadly it is not only the number of kids who are overweight that is going up, but also the number of children and teens who face major health problems due to their weight. A 2010 study by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion showed that 70% of obese children between the ages of five and 17 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
According to the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital website, an obese child or teen is much more likely to become an obese adult. The website said that an unhealthy lifestyle and an unfit diet as an adult are risk factors for the three most common causes of death in adults: cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
This campaign is the NFL’s push to really make a difference in the health of this generation. Most of the stories we hear about professional athletes and other celebrities in the news are not typically positive. Especially after the recent incidents with Tiger Woods and Michael Vick, it is nice to see these athletes, who are role models for so many kids and teens, using their star power to teach their fans about creating a healthier and better lifestyle for themselves and for their families.