Boston — April 26, 2018 — To encourage healthy lifestyles for kids and raise awareness about childhood obesity and physical inactivity, the Pennsylvania House and Senate and the Florida Senate passed House Resolution 842, Senate Resolution 328, and Senate Resolution 1204, respectively, designating the week of April 23–27 “Every Kid Healthy Week.” In 2017, the California legislature passed a resolution recognizing “Every Kid Healthy Week” as the fourth week of April in perpetuity.
"I'm proud to sponsor this resolution which celebrates the long-term benefits of living a healthy life and will continue to support efforts to provide Pennsylvania children with a strong foundation upon which to build an active, productive future,” said Representative James Santora, the resolution’s sponsor. Santora has sponsored the House resolution every year for the past three years.
In Pennsylvania, California, and Florida over 30% of adolescents age 10-17 are overweight or obese. This resolution creates an opportunity to engage youth, and their families, in regular physical activity, and educate them on the risk factors associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
“As a former classroom teacher, a child advocate, and a mother of two, the health, safety, and well-being of Florida’s children will always be very near to my heart,” said Lauren Book, the resolution sponsor in the Florida Senate. “We know that exercise has clear physical, as well as psychological and emotional benefits that can improve children’s lives in a multitude of different ways and promote good health across the lifespan.”
Research shows there is a costly link between physical inactivity and health and well-being in kids and adolescents. Currently, 86% of national public and private healthcare expenditures are used to diagnose and treat chronic diseases, which are tied to rising obesity rates and insufficient levels of physical activity. But exercise could turn things around. According to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health research, if 100% of kids aged 8-11 got at least 25 minutes of daily activity, $60 billion in lifetime medical costs and lost wages could be saved.
Said Senator John Sabatina, Jr., the Pennsylvania Senate sponsor, “I was proud to sponsor the third annual resolution designating April 23 through 27, as ‘Every Kid Healthy Week’ in Pennsylvania. This week-long celebration will bring awareness to the importance of healthy eating and physical activity and the role it plays in the physical, psychological, and academic well-being of Pennsylvania’s children.”
Increasing rates of physical activity can help children lose weight and improve academic performance, insulin response, blood lipid levels, and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases, like diabetes, in adulthood.
“It is encouraging to see Pennsylvania, California, Florida, and other states adopt policies that recognize and promote the benefits of physical activity for children. The exercise habits we develop in childhood are often carried into adulthood,” said Alexandra Larcom, IHRSA’s senior manager of health promotion and health policy.
In fact, studies show that 80% of adults ages 18 and over who reported having PE in school said they were active in 2015 and 39% were regularly active to a healthy level (151+ times per year). However, only 61% of adults who did not participate in PE reported activity and less than a quarter participated 151 times or more in 2015.
Health clubs play a large role in helping to cultivate these habits by creating a safe, supportive environment for people to be regularly active. Many health clubs across the U.S. offer programs for children and adolescents, as well as programs for families to exercise and pursue active lives together. As of 2015, there were 8.2 million health club members in the U.S. under the age of 18. The membership growth rate for this youth segment is the greatest by far of any age bracket, increasing by 78.7% since 2009 according to research from IHRSA, The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. As the not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide, IHRSA is committed to advancing physical activity for all ages and supports legislation that instills healthy habits in future generations.
IHRSA would like to individually thank the resolution’s sponsor James Santora and co-sponsors in the Pennsylvania House, Representative Readshaw, Representative Charlton, Representative DiGirolamo, Representative Neilson, Representative Murt, Representative Hennessey, Representative Ryan, Representative Schlossberg, Representative Bernstine, Representative Toohil, Representative Longietti, Representative Boback, Representative Davis, Representative Culver, Representative Rosemary Brown, Representative Millard, Representative Kinsey, Representative Burns, Representative Youngblood,Representative Saylor, Representative Watson, Representative Solomon, Representative Schweye, and Representative Ward; in the Pennsylvania Senate, sponsor Senator John Sabatina, and cosponsors Senator Lawrence Farnese, Senator Wayne Fontana, Senator Judith Schwank, Senator Stewart Greenleaf, Senator Andrew Dinniman, Senator James Brewster, Senator Patrick Browne, Senator Vincent Hughes, and Senator John Rafferty, and in the Florida Senate, sponsor Lauren Book.
Additionally, IHRSA would like to thank our member clubs for supporting this resolution by sending messages of support to legislators, emphasizing the importance of increased physical activity for children.
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote and protect the industry; and provide its members with benefits that will help them be more successful. For additional information on IHRSA’s involvement in advancing health promotion initiatives, please visit the Wellness & Community Programming section of the IHRSA website.