To date, the experts and the media have combined to portray childhood obesity as a complex problem with multiple, and hard to control variables. For example there’s the modern fast food diet, and the working mom who lacks the time to cook for her kids. There’s the TV, the video games, and the computer, all of which conspire to make sure 21st century kids remain as physically inactive as possible.
Add to that all the advertising that encourages consumption of sugary foods, the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables due to a lack of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, the lack of daily physical education, along with genetics and metabolism issues, and it all sounds complicated and confusing, right? How do you attack? How do you measure and evaluate? And how do you pay for it in a bear market?
We’re Spending Billions
With regard to paying for it, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has decided childhood obesity is so threatening that it’s dedicated $500 MILLION DOLLARS over the next five years to finding a solution to childhood obesity. If you throw in all the other foundations, corporations, state, and federal funding mechanisms we have to be spending billions annually in an effort to get a handle on the childhood obesity epidemic that threatens future generations and the financial viability of our nation itself.
Overlooking an Obvious and Simple Solution
But wouldn’t you know it. After spending all that time and money to convince everyone how complex and confusing childhood obesity is, suddenly there’s one authority who has the audacity to raise its hand and announce that childhood obesity is not nearly as complex and confusing as conventional authorities would have us believe.
By recently describing Operation Pull Your Own Weight as “A simple, easily implemented, easily documented, and affordable solution to childhood obesity,” The American Society of Exercise Physiologists implied that conventional authorities have overlooked at least one obvious, simple, and affordable solution, while focusing their attention on more complex possibilities.
As Complex as You Want to Make it
So, when it comes down to it, you can make childhood obesity as complex and confusing as you want to make it in order to justify spending billions, while overlooking simple solutions that have been hiding in plain sight for years. That’s effectively what we’ve done to date. Or you can open your eyes and see what every physical educator has intuitively known for decades. Namely, kids who can do pull ups are never obese.
Yes, regardless of their eating and exercise habits, their neighborhood economics, family genetics, or their affection for video games, if you show me ten kids who can do pull ups, I’ll show you ten kids who are not obese. And given access to a simple height adjustable pull up bar and leg assisted pull ups, almost all kids can learn to do pull ups in a predictable amount of time. Therefore, almost all kids can cost-effectively immunize themselves against obesity for life if we simply start them early (Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade) and help them learn to do pull ups.*
Why Overlook the Solution
So why have legions of experts overlooked this one obvious and utterly simple solution to childhood obesity? Let me answer this question with another question. When was the last time you saw anyone spending billions to find an antidote to polio? Here’s a clue. Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first effective polio vaccine in 1952, and once the solution was discovered, the research money came to a screeching halt.
In other words, the minute someone discovers a real solution to childhood obesity, is the minute that all the research money dries up and blows away. That is to say, the experts are being paid to study the problem, not to solve it. In fact the existing financial incentives pay for avoiding a real solution, and that’s a real problem.
Complex and Confusing VS Simple and Solvable
But with or without an expert’s blessing, the real solution to childhood obesity lies in the hands of individual parents and educators who work directly with individual kids, with real names, real smiles, and real needs. It’s these parents and educators who must decide whether childhood obesity is a complex and confusing dilemma, or a simple and very solvable problem.
If they choose complex and confusing they’ll have a ready made excuse for wringing their hands and procrastinating more. But if they choose simple and solvable, they transform confusion and procrastination into understanding and action. At this point the problem will be solved, one kid at a time. Parents and educators, it’s in your hands.
*Substitute any sufficiently challenging functional acid test (i.e. dips, rope climbing, rock climbing, hand stand push ups, superman push ups) in place of pull ups and the results will inevitably be the same.