Why are Barack Obama, world-renowned athletes and public health practitioners joining forces?
Making young people healthier nationwide, as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition documented Thursday with the release of its mid-course report on the nation’s physical activity guidelines . The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report followed its 2008 initiative for institutional fitness interventions to help Americans aged 6 and older improve their health and lower their risk of disease — a prescription that included 60 minutes or more of daily aerobic activity for children and adolescents.
A 16-person committee helped author the revised guidelines, co-chaired by NFL quarterback Drew Brees and U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Dominique Dawes. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discussed key findings in the four years since the previous report and recommendations for new physical activity policies with a “multi-component approach.”
“We looked at schools; preschool and childcare centers; primary care, family and home, and community settings,” Lavizzo-Mourey said. “We do know that 55 million youths are enrolled in school, and yet the amount of activity is not nearly what it could be in school settings. Daily [physical education] is provided in only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools.”
Specific findings and recommendations centered on five core principles, including:
- school settings hold a realistic and evidence-based opportunity to increase physical activity among youth;
- preschool and childcare centers that serve young children are in important setting in which to enhance physical activity;
- changes involving the built environment and multiple sectors are promising and merit implementation;
- media campaigns and technologies that help youth regard physical activity as a desirable and fun thing are valuable strategies to consider; and
- more research is needed to promote increased physical activity among youths.
The full report, “Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth,” is available online.