According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), more than 30% of high school students in the United States are overweight or obese. It’s a startling, tragic statistic. Though the number of students drinking sodas every day has decreased, the number of physically active students is trending downward.
Research shows the positive impact of physical activity for kids, and not just in their immediate future. While active students get 40% higher test scores, they are also 15% more likely to go to college and earn seven to eight percent more income as adults (The Aspen Institute, Project Play 2020).
Unfortunately, there are significant barriers preventing our nation’s youth from participating in organized sports, including the expense and time commitment for working parents and caregivers. Yet, there’s evidence that active parents and caregivers breed active kids, and kids of active moms are twice as likely to be physically active. With several states behind the curve on minimum physical education and recess regulations, it’s time for a new solution to step in and step up for America’s youth.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Aspen Institute, among others, are researching ways to solve this critical childhood issue. All the data shows that working in a supportive community environment and providing easy access to physical activity will help move the needle toward success.
I’m proud to say that my company, Sworkit, is jumping in to help. Sworkit is a premium digital health and fitness company providing workouts and personalized plans to help people get leaner, fitter and stronger. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or equipment to be active, making our technology a perfect fit for youth, under the supervision of adults.
Sworkit has developed the Sworkit Youth Initiative for youth to use our fitness technology for FREE. We are asking all teachers and coaches to contact Sworkit to obtain free access to help motivate and excite students to establish positive healthy habits. We want to help foster the next generation of happy and successful adults by providing nutritional guides, fitness resources, sports equipment, technology and camp scholarships.
By offering free fitness technology to our youth to become more active and build healthier habits, we believe this unfettered access will encourage physical activity for students and engage their families to get moving together.
This investment in our kids will create a huge payoff for our nation. Childhood obesity is directly responsible for more than $14 billion in medical cost per year, but that’s just a drop in the bucket. The direct medical cost for obese adults is $190.2 billion each year, according to the National League of Cities. Preventing kids from growing up to be overweight and obese, the NLC predicts Americans can save more than half a trillion dollars over the next 20 years! To create a truly intergenerational cycle of healthy Americans, let’s empower our youth to become adults that don’t have to fight back against unhealthy habits from their childhood.
Imagine a day when we can proudly announce we’ve beat childhood obesity – that our children are healthy, happy and well-positioned to be the future leaders of our nation. This is the goal.
And, while Sworkit is just one piece of the puzzle, we’re happy to offer a technology-based solution to work alongside with partners in this fight to ensure a healthier generation to come. Change starts when we work together to fight youth inactivity, and it starts today. We have the tools to empower students and engage families for a lasting, generational impact on our nation’s health. It’s time to share them.
Benjamin Young is CEO and co-founder of Sworkit. Follow him on Twitter: @obenyoung. And follow Sworkit on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.