The war on obesity and inactivity in America — and worldwide — has been stepped up the past few years, shedding light on an issue that, if not addressed properly, has the potential to cause a catastrophic ripple effect, including rising healthcare costs, increases in preventable diseases and conditions, and, most dishearteningly, a future where the current generation of children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Recent data from the World Health Organization finds that inactivity is now one of the leading health problems of the 21st century. In fact, its findings show that inactivity is the second leading risk factor for non-communicable disease and the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.
In Washington, D.C., the topic is getting a lot of attention. On Dec. 6, 2012, an expert panel convened to focus on the “inactivity pandemic” in the U.S, with a special focus on the Armed Forces. The American College of Sports Medicine, George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs and Center for Health and Risk Communications hosted the expert roundtable, which included leading researchers and physical activity specialists, including Colonel Theresa S. Gonzales, Office of the Surgeon General of the Army and Russell R. Pate, Ph.D., director, Children's Physical Activity Research Group, University of South Carolina, who presented the latest evidence on America's inactivity crisis, especially among children and the nation's Armed Forces.
Topic areas of focus included: the inactivity pandemic in the U.S. military; the state of play in schools and at home and the health implications of too much screen time; new research on energy balance and the implications for weight management; and how Congress is addressing America's lack of physical activity.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is also tackling the problem, as it begins to see increases in the numbers of service members and new recruits who cannot meet the current requirements for weight and physical fitness. ...
The resurgence of Paralympic and adaptive sports opportunities throughout the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) is helping many injured service members and disabled veterans overcome physical, emotional and social barriers and challenges. Through their love of sport and competition, these wounded warriors are showing the same courage and perseverance they did on the battlefield.
And through the support of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and U.S. Paralympics (a division of the USOC) — as well as many adaptive sports organizations and groups, and innumerable local partners and resources — many wounded warrior athletes are finding that participation in sports does not have to end once they are injured. Many times, the openness to participate can lead to success on the grand stage, which was the case for the 20 wounded warrior Paralympic athletes who competed in London last year, and for the more than 250 military athletes who competed in the 3rd annual Warrior Games.
“Our athletes have all overcome different adversities in their life,” notes Kallie Quinn, associate director, National Teams & Emerging Sport Programs, Sport Performance, United States Olympic Committee. “That is the great thing about sports and Paralympic sports, it is a conduit for athletes to overcame challenge in life, give them a focus and give them something to strive for and keep improving their lives for, on any level. And when I speak with these athletes, many tell me about how much sports has given them back in life — improved their quality of life, improved their relationships and given them, at times, a reason to get up in the morning. That is what Paralympic sports are all about.” ...