When the Coronavirus outbreak occurred in early 2020, one of the biggest factors that put the United States at severe risk was obesity. Among children ages 5-17, the US holds the highest rate of obesity in comparison to 15 of the world’s most developed countries, with 39.5% percent of females and 35% of males at a weight detrimental to their health (Project Play, Aspen Institute). With the rise of a global pandemic, it is increasingly imperative that we prevent our children from becoming the target of disease by addressing the root of the problem – obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Research shows that physical activity in childhood is becoming a parent’s leading line of defense in the fight against adult heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and lifelong health issues, and the time to act is now.
According to a recent study by The Aspen Institute, physical activity in children, especially within an organized-participation environment, is proven to lead to less obesity in children, increased test scores, and decreased engagement in harmful behavior (i.e.; drinking, drugs, unprotected sex), as well as an increased likelihood of going to college and achieving a higher paying job. It has also been linked to reduced health issues and an overall savings on the health care system. In short, healthy parents produce healthy kids (The Aspen Institute, Project Play, State of Play: 2017, Kids Facts: Benefits).
The W.H.E.N! Foundation believes that these physical health benefits, in addition to social and cognitive improvements like leadership development, social maturation, teamwork, and problem-solving, help athletes see beyond their limits to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Visit the AYSO W.H.E.N! Foundation newsroom frequently for important health and wellness information updates!