Strong Kids Arm Themselves Against Obesity For Life

**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

Let the fast food joints and the junk food industry advertise to kids all day long. Let the video game gurus continue manufacturing their mind numbing, thumb exercising gizmos. Let the sugar and fat pushing vending machines stay in the school hallways. And let science, math, and technology dominate school curriculum at the expense a real life education.

This is Really Easy

Let all the culprits continue doing all the evil things they can dream up. But if your kids can physically pull their own weight (do at least one conventional pull up) odds are absolutely spectacular that THEY’RE NOT OBESE! And if they maintain the ability (which requires decent eating and exercise habits and less than 30 seconds a week on the closest tree limb) odds are equally spectacular that THEY’LL NEVER BE OBESE!*

Furthermore, if parents, school board members, and educators are able to think preventatively and address the problem BEFORE the obesity seeds take root, (just like we’ve done with polio, diphtheria, small pox, and measles, etc.) it’s really quite easy to help kids learn to physically pull their own weight and to arm themselves against obesity (and the myriad of related problems that follow in its wake) for life.

It’s All About Self-Motivation
And the most important part of this functional orientation to childhood obesity prevention is that most kids love the process of growing systematically stronger, especially when it happens in the company of their peers. That is to say, the motivational aspect of childhood obesity prevention takes care of itself because most kids just plain love to grow stronger every week, every month, all year long. After all, being strong is cool and being weak is un-cool. And what kid wants to be weak at anything?

Let me say this in another way because it’s really important. YOU WON’T HAVE TO BRIBE YOUR KIDS TO PARTICIPATE because they naturally value the opportunity to grow stronger along with their friends. It’s built into the genes!

On the contrary, rewarding kids with extrinsically valued garbage (including stars, stickers, grades, and contrived positive reinforcements) undermines the intrinsic value that’s built into this functional orientation by its very nature. In other words, it’s a huge mistake to employ extrinsic rewards. Your kids are not pigeons or rats that need operant conditioning!

Strong Kids Arm Themselves Against Obesity
If you set the stage right, it matters not what all the bad guys are doing to undermine your kids, as long as you raise them to be strong enough to see through all this foolishness. Done correctly, kids naturally grow strong enough to fend off all the evil influences (including tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse – they make you weak not strong) we expect them to grow up with in the 21st century. It’s really that simple. You decide!

*The same claims can be made for other full-body-weight exercises including parallel bar dips, rope climbing, hand stand push-ups, and single legged squats just to name a few other functional obesity prevention options.


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 TwitterLinkedin, or Facebook.

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