Pull Your Own Weight: Systematic childhood obesity prevention and rehab

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A column by Rick Osbourne

In their official 2006 report entitled Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up? The Institute of Medicine stated, “Interventions, however, generally remain fragmented and small-scale. Moreover, the LACK OF SYSTEMATIC MONITORING AND EVALUATION HAS HINDERED THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN EVIDENCE BASE to identify, apply, and disseminate lessons learned and support promising childhood obesity prevention efforts.”

Now since September of 2006 when this report was issued, lots has happened including the launch of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move childhood obesity prevention initiative (2010), Bill Clinton’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation (2006). And billions of dollars have been spent on an infinite number of research studies, anti-obesity programs, initiatives, public service ads, and marketing programs.


Still Fragmented After All These Years…
Everyone it seems has joined the fight from the YMCA to the NFL, yet almost a decade later the Institute of Medicine’s 2006 statement still rings true when it comes to the state of childhood obesity prevention here in the USA today. That is to say, almost a decade later things are still fragmented, small-scale, and we still lack the ability to systematically (and accurately) monitor and evaluate (note the ongoing BMI controversy) anything regarding this epidemic.

In contrast we have systematic, evidence based solutions for epidemics like polio, small pox, diphtheria, and measles (etc.). These solutions were implemented decades ago and as the result these epidemics have been effectively eliminated in most developed nations. But for America’s number one health threat we still have nothing that even remotely resembles a systematic, evidence based solution that can be disseminated in order to turn the tide. And without it we’ll continue to lose children by the millions to the obesity plague.


Simple, Systematic, Documentable, and Affordable…
Into this void, we ask Michelle, Bill, and other influential folks who are legitimately concerned over the problems created by this ongoing epidemic consider a strategy that the American Society of Exercise Physiologists has described as “A simple, easily implemented, easily documented, and affordable solution to childhood obesity.”

Check this out. Obese kids are unable to do lots of things including conventional pull ups. Therefore, regardless of gender, race, or economic circumstances, kids who can do  even one conventional pull up are almost never obese. Finally, given access to the right information and experiences, most kids can easily be inspired to learn to physically pull their own weight in a predictable amount of time…one school year or less. After all, being strong is always cool.

The time required to develop this ability is less than two minutes per child each week. The cost of setting the stage in order for kids to learn to do pull ups is negligible. Any school system (YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, or youth program) in the nation can easily afford the time and implementation cost if they only want to do it. Actually parents can implement it at home with their own kids on any backyard or playground swing set if they’d choose to do so.

The final point to be made is, if these kids maintain the ability to do pull up (which requires 20-30 seconds per week along with decent eating and exercise habits) they will never have to wrestle with America’s number one health threat and all the problems that follow in its wake. They will have effectively naturally armed themselves against obesity for life. In the words of Gandhi, “Actions expose priorities.” Let’s Move!


Rick Osbourne is a former physical educator and a pioneer in the field of functional childhood obesity prevention. He currently serves as President of the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation which is an Illinois based, 501c3, not for profit organization whose focus is functional childhood obesity prevention. He’s written and published three books in this field, the latest of which is entitled Beating Childhood Obesity Now: A Simple Solution for Parents and Educators. He’s the Examiner’s national childhood obesity prevention correspondent. He writes an online column for The Edvocate. And you can connect with Rick via Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook.

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