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US Youth Soccer unites with leading out-of-school-time organizations to combat childhood obesity

 

New initiative of ChildObesity180 has the potential to improve the health of tens of millions of children every year

FRISCO, TEXAS (December 6, 2011) –US Youth Soccer is proud to announce the creation of ChildObesity180, an alliance of multi-sector national leaders committed to reversing the trend of childhood obesity. The unique partnership of leading out-of-school-time organizations, including US Youth Soccer, has united to adopt consistent principles for nutrition and physical activity.

The Healthy Kids Out of School initiative is a collaboration between the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Council of La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Council of Youth Sports, Pop Warner, the YMCA of the USA, 4-H and US Youth Soccer.

The leaders of these organizations, convened by ChildObesity180, developed universal nutrition and physical activity principles from a broad list of evidenced-based recommendations for combating childhood obesity – marking the first time leaders from these groups have worked together toward a common goal.

"Healthy Kids Out of School represents a groundbreaking collaboration of major youth-focused groups in a new and strategic effort," said Peter Dolan, chairman of ChildObesity180. "These organizations are demonstrating the essential leadership and cooperation necessary to counter the childhood obesity epidemic and to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of the tens of millions children who participate in their programs."

"US Youth Soccer is pleased to join ChildObesity180 and our national partners in this collaborative movement to impact future generations. Many children and their caregivers are unaware of the many benefits associated with healthy active lifestyles. In addition to supporting the need for active movement through play in sports like soccer; practical measures for a lifetime of better food choices and physical activity will pave the way for a better tomorrow," said US Youth Soccer President John Sutter.

A significant percentage of school-aged children in the U.S. are enrolled in out-of-school-time activities, including a large number of rural, urban, and low-income children who are particularly vulnerable to the poor health outcomes linked to childhood obesity. Because of this broad reach, out-of-school programs have been identified as a promising area for promoting healthy habits and preventing childhood obesity.

However, there has been variability in the quality of foods and beverages served and opportunities for physical activity offered to children participating in out-of-school-time programs.

Recognizing this opportunity for action, leaders from the nine ChildObesity180-affiliated organizations identified and agreed upon three sustainable, actionable principles that are sufficiently flexible for adaptation to local environments and cultures. They are:

· Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
· Move More: Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.
· Snack Smart: Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.

"Aligning these nine organizations with unifying principles ensures that the tens of millions of children who participate in out-of-school programs are consistently encouraged to eat and drink healthfully and to be active, regardless of where they spend their time out of school," said Dr. Christina D. Economos, associate professor at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of ChildObesity180. "ChildObesity180 and its partners are committed to pursuing these kinds of results-oriented strategies that are innovative and ambitious and that champion the best interests of children and their futures."

In addition to developing the framework for these principles, the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative will also develop a comprehensive implementation plan to connect organizations with the local resources needed to help adopt the principles.

Healthy Kids Out of School is one of several major initiatives that ChildObesity180 will execute to combat childhood obesity. ChildObesity180 has elected to focus on four initial strategic priority areas, each of which addresses existing opportunities in current obesity prevention efforts and has the potential to significantly improve children's health. The priority areas include children's access to healthier food, physical activity, food marketing to children, and eating away from home or at restaurants.

About ChildObesity180
ChildObesity180 fosters cross-sector collaboration to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within one generation's time. Charter members are national leaders from the public, nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who are using their reach and expertise to drive an integrated national strategy of high-impact initiatives to prevent childhood obesity. ChildObesity180 is chaired by Peter Dolan and directed and co-directed by leading obesity researchers Christina Economos, PhD, and Miriam Nelson, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Founded in 2009, ChildObesity180 is conducted in collaboration with Tufts University; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation serves as a core strategic partner of ChildObesity180. For more information, visit www.ChildObesity180.org.

About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) – US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org.

 

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