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Additionally, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2012, “Influence of Sports, Physical Education and Active Commuting to School on Adolescent Weight Status,” researchers found, “Just seven percent of teens who played three or more sports were obese, along with nine percent who played two sports, and 16 percent who played one sport, compared with 21 percent of teens who don’t play team sports at all.” Furthermore, participation in sports, especially for at-risk youth, can contribute to improved grade-point averages, decreased drop-out rates and higher educational aspirations.
As a nation, we have a choice. We can turn a blind eye to the obesity epidemic, which costs taxpayers over $200 billion each year, according to a study by the Campaign to End Obesity. Alternatively, we can be proactive in ways that will spur future generations to healthier lifestyles.
We must ensure that the federal government recognizes that physical inactivity, from the lack of participation in sports or for other reasons, is a key factor in this epidemic. It’s essential we take steps to eliminate barriers that stand in the way of all children being physically active in order to close the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.” Let’s give our children access to the resources they need, including education, information and physical infrastructure. The human and financial cost of sitting on the sidelines is much too high.
Game on. Let’s make a difference.
Rep. Marcia Fudge is a Democrat from Ohio. Ed Foster-Simeon is president and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and member of the Campaign to End Obesity’s Board of Directors.