Federal funds will be used to buy pedometers, which measure the number of steps a person takes, for 200 children in Denver. While we usually would criticize such an absurd expenditure, we cannot argue with the goal of the purchase -- to reduce childhood obesity.

The pilot project is aimed at motivating the children to take 10,000 steps a day. Despite extensive media attention, the nation's children continue to tip the scales. Childhood obesity is up 11 percent since 1994.

A Colorado official says the pedometers, which are the size of matchbooks and clipped to belts, appear to get users to walk the distance each day necessary to keep weight off.

The nation's children aren't exercising enough, but ultimately the responsibility for changing children's habits rests with parents.

l We understand the hesitance to allow children the freedom to walk and to ride bicycles far from home because of crime fears, but parents can join their children in these activities, thus ensuring their safety. Parents get to stay fit, too.

l We recognize the pressures of working parents who rely on restaurants and take-out for their weekday meals, but they should take the time on weekends to prepare home-cooked meals, which are generally much lower in fat and calories.

l Some experts blame too much homework for keeping children from sports; we cannot argue with challenging academics. But don't let the child spend all of his remaining recreational time watching endless hours of television or playing video games. Make them rake the leaves or run the sweeper. Throw them a Frisbee or softball. Go to the park.

Society is far more sedentary today than it was just 30 to 40 years ago before suburban expansion forced everyone to drive everywhere. But parents and children can change the way they live. If they don't, everyone will share the spiraling health-care costs of a sicker generation.



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