Childhood Obesity: Call to Action

Why Is America Unfit and How Do We Get Fit Again?

Jack LaLanne known as the “Godfather of Fitness” started the fitness craze in the 1950s proclaiming to millions of television viewers that “exercise and a healthy diet are the keys to a great life.” With Gold’s Gym in the 1970s to CrossFit in the 2000s, the fitness industry has been growing rapidly and today there is a gym for just about anyone that wants to get fit. Yet with over 30,500 fitness centers in the United States, we are more unfit than ever before in the history of our country. How is it possible that while the fitness industry expanded the overweight and obesity rates among adults jumped from 47% to 67%?

Perhaps we need to examine the real problem – Our Habits. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “habit” as an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. The key word here is “involuntary” since our brains are hot-wired to repeat learned behavior automatically. As a result, 40 percent of the time we are not thinking of what we are doing. This gives us the advantage to be more efficient and devote our mental activity to learning new things. Likewise, this same advantage can cripple us if we are not careful since habits by their nature are automatic and very difficult to change.

Our Evolving Habits

According to Psychology Today, research clearly shows that our health habits develop at a very early age: (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201205/health-habits-develop-early-and-are-hard-change). Unfortunately due to the meteoric rise of the fast food industry and the sugar industry, fast food has now become a big part of our American Diet (See Exhibit A) and sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is found in virtually every single processed food and beverage that we buy today.

At the same time our transition from the agricultural/industrial age to the information age has shifted our fitness level from an active lifestyle to a more sedentary one (See Exhibit B). These two major shifts in both our eating and exercise habits have contributed to our alarming obesity rates that only seem to be getting worse. It should be no surprise then that by the time we are old enough to workout at a local gym or buy our own groceries our bad habits cripple us and make it very difficult for us to change and live a healthy lifestyle.  

What Does our Future Hold?

If current trends continue it is predicted that obesity will soar from 36% to 50% by 2030 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/18/us-obesity-us-idUSBRE88H0RA20120918)  and nearly all adults in the US will be overweight. The good news is that it does not have to be this way! Our future is in our hands and we can reverse current trends. However, history shows us that building more fitness centers for adults will not have an impact on our obesity epidemic. Instead we need to focus on training our teens to build healthy habits as EARLY as possible. That is the KEY to getting America back in shape!

My wife and I created the Lean Teen Program to help teens (ages 8-18) build healthy habits and transform their lives! From prior experience, we understood that we needed to have three basic components to design the first fitness and weight loss center especially for teens: 1) nutritional guidance with one-on-one coaching; 2) group exercise classes with a trainer; and 3) group meetings to give our teens the support they need to stay motivated. Combined each of these components plays a crucial role in helping a teen to get and stay fit. Individually, each has its unique purpose in helping teens build healthy habits.

Even though we are currently helping many teens change their habits, we cannot win the war against childhood obesity by ourselves.  It is essential that we find trainers to join us that have a passion for helping teens just like we do. As a result, we started our Affiliate Program to partner with the best personal trainers looking to own and manage new locations in the rapidly growing teen weight loss market. If you want to partner with us and would like more information, please contact us or call (704) 614-6700. Ending childhood obesity will not be easy but together we can get America back in shape one teen at a time!

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