The National Football League has reinforced its commitment to addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in America. Former NFL quarterback and current Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski testified in front of Congress on December 16th and said that childhood obesity rates in America are “startling.” He stressed that children need to get more exercise.
Jaworski testified on behalf of his United Way Jaws Youth Fund and the “ NFL Play 60 ” campaign I recently blogged about. The United Way Jaws Youth Fund targets at-risk youth in the greater Philadelphia region. The organization provides one-time grants annually “to results-oriented, outcome based, non-profit programs.” Some past recipients of funding include the Hispanic Family Center’s Play-ful Summer Camp Program, the Special Olympics, and the YMCA.
Jaworski’s efforts have inspired the NFL charitable foundation to invest in similar style programs. The foundation recently announced that it will award a grant to study childhood obesity prevention as part of the “NFL Play 60” campaign. The Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas is the first recipient of this $1.8 million grant. The money will be used to fund the Fitnessgram program which is an assessment program that “includes a variety of health-related physical fitness tests designed assess cardiovascular fitness, body composition, muscle strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.”
Fitnessgram software provides report cards for each child summarizing the child’s performance in each of the test categories. “Fitnessgram can be used by students to help them in personal fitness program planning, by teachers to determine student needs and to help guide students in program planning.” This Fitnessgram program goes along with the NFL’s goal of increasing physical activity among children to 60 minutes per day.
Over the next three years, Fitnessgram will be available to 1,120 schools in the 32 NFL city markets. The data from the Fitnessgram will be gathered and analyzed at the end of three years to determine what best prevents obesity in children.
I look forward to seeing the Fitnessgram program results. I am a big supporter of increased physical activity among children and applaud the NFL’s continued support and commitment to the cause.