The Other Pandemic
We’re fresh off one pandemic, but what if I told you there was another one that’s been happening for decades? It doesn’t get the fanfare or attention that COVID-19 did, but it’s deadly too. Childhood obesity is claiming the health (physical and mental) of a huge swath of our children and it’s time to act. A few scary numbers for you:
- An obese child is 10X more likely to become an obese adult.
- 1 in 4 children today will develop diabetes as adults.
- A full quarter of black and hispanic kids are now obese.
- Obese kids have 3X higher risk of all-cause mortality in early adulthood.
Childhood obesity is the most shameful of national health crises because the solution is simple, cheap, and right at our fingertips. Solving obesity doesn’t mean strapping kids into a treadmill, it doesn’t mean forcing them into manual labor, it doesn’t mean doing farmer carries up the sand dunes… It means opening up the supply of youth sports and activities to a group of young people who already wish they could play.
Playing sports is among the greatest predictors of health among kids. Indeed, playing just 1 sport puts you 17% less likely to be obese than the average kid. Increase to 3 sports and you’re. a whopping 35% less likely to be obese. The best part is that while, the vast majority of kids quit sports by age 11, over 90% still want to play. The reasons for quitting are high costs, lengthy travel, and lack of fun… not disinterest.
3 Quick Fixes
Educate the Educators
Partner schools with parks leaders or nonprofits like HealthCorps to ensure teachers know how to communicate about and leverage exercise and team activity.
Pick Up the Cuts
Have parks and program leaders ready to pick up kids cut from schools sports and pull them into continued play opportunities.
Meet Them Where They Are
The sports that were popular last decade aren’t the same today. Use technology like Playon to keep the pulse on what kids are interested in and the lines of communication always open!