Making sure our kids are healthy is a priority for Scouting. It’s part of our legacy for encouraging outdoor adventures and helping our young people get the exercise they need for healthy lifestyles.
And we’ve heard many reports of the health risks of childhood obesity and other problems related to being overweight. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cites heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers among the diseases where obesity can be a factor.
But a study in the journal Pediatrics released in early April on the dollars and cents of medical costs associated with childhood obesity was even more startling.
According to researchers at the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, the medical costs over a lifetime for an obese child can add up to $19,000 per child. For a child of normal weight who becomes overweight or obese in adulthood, those costs total about $12,900 per person.
Those costs reflect direct medical costs like doctor visits and medication. The study cites additional indirect costs for absenteeism and lost productivity into adulthood.
While the value of a person’s life can’t be measured in dollars and cents, this report does bring a new perspective on why keeping our kids healthy is so critical.
For future generations to live healthy, it’s incumbent on all youth-serving and health organizations to promote proper diet and exercise at an early age. Through our ScoutStrong initiative and recent partnership with Polaris off-road vehicles, we are looking for new and innovative ways to make Scouting even more attractive to young people (and their parents) as a healthy activity. We also recently announced an alliance with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to promote activities that help children achieve a healthy lifestyle through an energy-balanced approach.
What innovative programs do you find to be effective at keeping young people active and fit? Parents — have you gotten your children involved in fitness programs? Let me know what’s worked best for you!