Communities Key to Curbing Childhood Obesity
Education & Research Fewer than half of all U.S. youth achieve the Surgeon General’s recommended dose of 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Access to sports is vital in addressing this issue.
Sixty minutes a day, every day. That’s all it takes to meet the Surgeon General’s recommended dose of physical activity for children ages 6 to 11. Yet fewer than half of all U.S. youth come close to achieving this goal. And fewer still are engaging in the kinds of activities that can help them get healthy and stay healthy.
As childhood obesity rates in some communities reach more than 30 percent, ensuring that children have access to physical activity both in and out of school can translate into healthier futures for the nation.
Whether it’s a game of pickup basketball on the weekend, soccer practice after school or an in-school physical education class, team sports —more than many other activities—can have lasting positive effects on kids ranging well beyond health and fitness.
"Healthy childhood habits like the ones developed in sports can lead to a lifetime of healthy behaviors."
Studies by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and numerous researchers show that sports can influence self-esteem, goal setting, personal and social responsibility and leadership. Additionally, quality sports programs have even been shown to raise classroom attendance and grades.
Leveling the playing field
We know that access to sports can mean improved health outcomes for children, families and entire communities. Yet, for so many kids across the country, a lack of financial resources, safe places to play and encouragement means that they are missing out on key opportunities to get involved in sports and all the benefits they provide.
Healthy children need healthy communities. By working at the community level, with established leaders, parents, educators and children themselves, we can work to pinpoint and address specific barriers to physical activity and create healthy environments that promote healthy behaviors for the people who live in them.
There are some simple and replicable ways that all communities can do this. By training coaches, educating and engaging parents, creating community-wide and community-led sports leagues (simultaneously creating tighter knit communities and improving health outcomes!), communities put their children on the track to healthier futures.
Healthy childhood habits like the ones developed in sports can lead to a lifetime of healthy behaviors. That’s why communities nationwide can and must take meaningful steps to create opportunities for children and youth to participate in sports. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that communities are healthy and thriving. Learn how other communities, with the help of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, are taking the lead here.