by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
According to a report released by the Trust for America’s Health, Tennessee ranks 4th in the United States when it comes to the number of individuals suffering from childhood obesity. With 20% of the state’s children already exhibiting the conditions that fall within the standard medical rubric that defines obesity and 41% of the state’s children age 10 to 17 being at risk for weight issues now*, the grim numbers should be inspiring everyone to get their little (and not so little) ones off the sofa and outside.
The uptick in obesity in children has been attributed to many factors: the reduction of inter/intramural sports programs in schools and community centres, the fall in prices for computers and game systems and the continuing economic crisis that has many families dealing with schedules that are unforgiving when it comes to food preparation and family mealtimes. The last item in particular has led to a drop in the diversity and nutritive quality of the North American diet. This comes at a dear cost both in economic and cultural terms.
It’s not news to most that starting out life as an overweight child can lead to the difficulties that are a part of being an overweight adult. Aside from the social stigma that comes with being overweight, the host of medical issues concommitant with obesity can abbreviate the quality and length of a person’s life expectancy.
This alarming trend has not been lost on the organisers of Nashville’s youth hockey development programs, who are promoting the recently unveiled Million PALA Callenge in an effort to encourage the Predators’ youngest fans to make healthier choices. The Predators Organisation has always offered opportunities for children to get on the ice and this new initiative affords their youth outreach programs added support from the NHL and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
In April, the NHL announced their formal partnership with the Council, who had launched the Million PALA Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to get one million men, women and children to sign a pledge to win the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by September of this year. To achieve this within the guidelines of the PALA and NHL’s initiative, children ages six to seventeen would need to engage in a physical activity for sixty minutes per day at least five days a week. For adults, the requirements are similar, with the big difference being that they commit to thirty minutes per day. The duration of the program is a minimum of six weeks, but the recommeneded time frame is a little longer (and healthier) at eight weeks.
The collaboration between the First Couple and the NHL was launched earlier this year with a street hockey workout and a clinic for youngsters on the White House lawn facilitated by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Hockey Executive Director David Ogrean with the help of members of the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. The initiative, which incorporates existing NHL youth outreach programs, PALA and First Lady Michelle Obama’s LET’S MOVE! organisation is part of a larger league-wide push.
Like many NHL organisations, the Predators are making it easy to find information about PALA . The program, which is prominently featured on their official website, includes links to the Predators PALA page and instructions on signing up for the challange as a part of Nashville’s team. The Million PALA Challenge site includes a way to track participants’ progress and is a good way to demonstrate home team pride and the overall willingness of NHL fans to get involved.
Are you a part of Predsnation? Sign up here: http://www.presidentschallenge.org/NHL_PREDATORS/
For everyone else, please check your favorite team’s homepage to see if they’re participating or go to:
On a personal note, this fat-kid-now-fat-adult has already lost nine pounds and gotten her A1C back to normal over the past few weeks. I want to challenge all of my colleagues and fellow hockey fans to commit to healthier living this summer. Don’t let the fat chick with the camera outrun you. Get off the couch and get involved!
*Per a report from the Tennessee Coordinated Schools Health Report