Obesity is the single greatest threat to American children. As a result, experts fear that this generation of kids may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. So, how bad is it? Today, obesity accounts for more than 1 in 5 American deaths. In fact, more than 70 percent of adults are considered overweight or obese, as well as 1 in 3 American kids and teens. That leaves this next generation five times more likely to become overweight adults. And it doesn’t stop there.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity tends to lead to a variety of serious ailments. It’s been linked to 60 chronic diseases including cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke and heart disease and the estimated healthcare costs in the United States is between $147 billion to $210 billion annually.
That why I’ve declared war on childhood obesity. I’m creating an “army” of kids, parents, educators, elected officials and Fortune 500 companies to help battle this preventable disease. By making this issue a priority for all of us, I believe we can substantially slow down its proliferation.
For the past 40 years I’ve been helping adults get fit. However, in order to make a systemic difference, we need to get to the root of the problem and instead focus on our children. To that end, I created the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) to help motivate and inspire kids across the country to get up and get fit. This program awards brand new state of the art fitness centers to elementary and middle schools that prioritize youth fitness through innovative ways in promoting physical activity and/or wellness to their students.
Since its inception, NFGFC has delivered DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers to elementary and middle schools in 28 states and now we’re delivering twelve more in 2019 to four states including Rhode Island. The fitness centers are financed through public/private partnerships. In short, we don’t rely on government funding nor a single taxpayer dollar!
Since we began this program, we have found that our fitness centers are fueling a newfound excitement in students around getting fit. Not only are we building healthier, stronger bodies, but students are also gaining confidence and self-esteem. These are the true building blocks to helping our kids excel in school and in life beyond their wildest dreams. I’ve always believed that if you give schools the tools, amazing things will happen.
My goal is to inspire kids to get physically active. And now I’m calling on parents to work hand in hand with me to help motivate their children to get fit as well. Simple steps, like being active as a family: put down the devices, get outside and do something. Anything that increases physical activity is a step in the right direction. By getting fit today, children and parents will reap the rewards well into the future.
By joining the fight against childhood obesity, you can help us reverse this devastating trend and help all of our kids live long, productive and exciting lives.
Nominations are now open in Rhode Island. I encourage everyone to visit natgovfit.org/nominate-your-school to nominate a local school to win a DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center.
Jake Steinfeld serves as the Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, whose sole mission is to provide DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers to elementary and middle schools throughout the United States. To learn more about the DON’T QUIT! Campaign, visit www.natgovfit.org.