In 1956, President Eisenhower created the President’s Council on Youth Fitness because American children lagged behind European children on tests of strength and flexibility. The council’s work was a favorite cause of President Kennedy, and by 1965, President Johnson was able to report sizable gains in youth fitness. Since then, however, the physical fitness of American children has declined so much that many experts believe the current generation of children is more unfit than any other generation.
Despite the current emphasis among adults on physical fitness, the data on children are not encouraging. For example, one-third of all children over 12 years old may have elevated cholesterol levels. Using a skin-pinching test on nearly 9,000 youngsters from fifth through twelfth grade, researchers found that boys and girls today are much fatter than those in the 1960s.
Another disconcerting finding is that 10-year-old boys took an average of more than 10 minutes to run a mile and averaged fewer than 3 chin-ups. In Houston, about 50 percent of high school students scored “poor to weak” in the 600-yard run, an endurance test. More than one-third of third- and fourth-graders in low-income San Francisco schools were unable to do 10 minutes of moderate exercise. Finally, a study of elementary school children in Jackson County, Michigan, found that 98 percent showed at least one major risk factor for heart disease. Forty-two percent had high cholesterol levels; 28 percent had high blood pressure. In fact, more than half had at least three risk factors.
Your task is to pretend that President Biden has asked you to investigate what is going on and provide him a summary. Your summary should answer the following questions?:
- Why do you think this has happened?
- What suggestions would you provide?
- What obstacles do you anticipate facing? How would you approach them?
- Is this a socio-economic issue or is it a parenting issue?