US fighting childhood obesity with sports
Washington, May 15 (IANS) In an effort to fight childhood obesity, Olympic authorities and sports organisations in the United States are initiating participation of about 1.7 million children in Olympic sports.
US First Lady Michelle Obama made the announcement Monday with two dozen Olympic and Paralympic athletes. She brought about the new plan through her "Let's Move" initiative, partnering with the US Olympic Committee, the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), US Paralympics and several national sports governing organisations, who have pledged to fund the programme through the year.
"That is so important, because sometimes all it takes is that first lesson, or clinic, or class to get a child excited about a new sport," Michelle Obama was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "So this summer, together with our children, we can support Team USA not just by cheering them on, but by striving to live up to the example they set."
"It is important for us to remember that being active and moving more doesn't mean you have to train like our nation's elite athletes, but being active is part of a healthy lifestyle," said PHA President and CEO Larry Soler.
Among all the programmes in the initiative, USA Field Hockey will launch a programme at 250 locations nationwide to engage 15,000 kids this year while USA Gymnastics will reach 40,000 kids, 80 percent higher than its youth engagement last year.
USA Swimming is offering beginner programming to 600,000 young people while the US Football Federation plans to engage 12,000 youth in after-school programmes. The US Tennis, Volleyball and Basketball associations are also planning such new initiatives.
The US Olympians Association recently kicked off a "Walk to London" initiative through which 5,456 children will walk a total of 5,456 miles -- the distance from Los Angeles to London -- at 20 free community-based walks from April 8 through June 23.
More than 250 Olympians and Paralympians will participate as walk leaders, and each walk will host other clinics and sports expos alongside the route.
"Let's Move" initiative started in February 2010 as a way to promote a healthy and active lifestyle in the United States, where nearly one in three children is overweight or obese.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new study released last week suggesting almost 42 percent of the US population could be obese by 2030.
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