One of the major stumbling blocks in defeating childhood obesity is the lack of measurability, a way to conveniently evaluate progress, which results in a lack of motivation, and an epidemic that continues to grow like a forest fire raging out of control.
As a matter of fact the National Institute of Medicine recently (9/14/06) issued a disturbing report indicating that after spending over $68,000,000 over five years on just one program (there were many others), because of poor evaluation methods, we still have no idea what works and what doesn’t work. We wasted $68,000,000…surprise, surprise.
If You Can’t Measure It, How Do You Know
But if you lack the ability to measure accurately how will you ever know if you’re winning, losing, or just spinning your wheels? The State of Arkansas for example, is considered to be one of the nation’s leaders in the battle against childhood obesity. Bill Clinton has even gotten into the fray. They decided to measure every child’s body mass index (the most commonly used indicator) and put it on their report card once every quarter…in other words, every nine weeks.
How Do You Motivate Kids
But even if this measurement is accurate and meaningful for kids, which is highly questionable in itself, getting feedback once every nine weeks packs almost no motivational punch at all. By the same token it’s economically impractical to measure on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Once a quarter is about the best they can do.
Other more sophisticated measurement possibilities such as testing percentage of body fat via electronic impedance (computer) or underwater weighing are dramatically more expensive and much less likely to be used by anyone except a professor or grad student in a physiology lab. Furthermore, such models focus on the negative…how fat are you instead of how strong are you? Alack of regular feedback, in combination with their negative connotations DOOM the most conventional strategies to failure. And after years of work, and multi millions spent, we still don’t know what works and what doesn’t work.
Kindergartner Can Measure This
In contrast, the documented measurability factor in a program called Operation Pull Your Own Weight is extremely regular, and highly practical. You need no special instruments, no magic formulas, and almost no specialized training to tell if students are improving or not. If you can count from one to twelve, as most kindergartners can, you qualify. As a matter of fact, elementary school age kids not only can, but they have measured themselves and others without problem. Not only that, but the strength gain focus of this program has very positive, not negative connotations.
The Feedback is Constant
More specifically, OPYOW is based on the old coach's observation that kids who can do pull ups can't be obese. And kids who are obese can't do pull ups. The ability to do pull ups and obesity are mutually exclusive and where you find one, you'll not find the other.
Now, using a height adjustable pull up bar and leg assisted pull ups, (the child’s encouraged to jump and pull at the same time) most kids can learn to do pull ups. The idea is to count and record (document change) the number of repetitions a participant can perform at a particular bar height. The program is initiated by finding a bar height at which a participant can do eight leg assisted pull ups which constitutes workout # one. In workout # 2 they do nine, in workout # 3 they do ten, in workout # 4 they do eleven, and in workout # 5 they do twelve leg assisted pull ups. Then in workout # 6 the bar is raised one inch and the whole eight to twelve scenario begins all over again.
The Motivation is High
In other words each participant is taught how to improve regularly, in very small increments every week, every month, over a prescribed period of time. The progress is highly visible, highly motivating, INFINITELY MEASURABLE, and the positive feedback occurs every single time the participant works out.
Under these conditions, along with public success and celebration (high fives), motivation remains high throughout the program, evaluation becomes extremely easy and affordable, and the focus on strength gain instead of fat loss is positive not negative. In other words, Operation Pull Your Own Weight is extremely affordable, extremely motivating, and INFINITELY MEASURABLE, DOCUMENTABLE, AND EVALUATEABLE.
And In The End, You’ll Know
At the end of a week, a month, a quarter, a year, you’ll know, unequivocally, if you’re winning the war, losing the war, or just treading water. You’ll never be in a position where you’ve just spent $68,000,000 and are still groping in the dark for answers. Not only that, but you’ll defeat childhood obesity naturally, without resorting to pills, shots, and special diets to get the job done. What more can you ask?
Rick Osbourne is a Chicago based, freelance writer who currently serves as Executive Director of Operation Pull Your Own Weight, an informational web site that's dedicated to naturally immunizing kids against obesity for a lifetime without pills, shots, or special diets. If you're interested in childhood and obesity or obesity in America , then check out http://www.pullyourownweight.net any time you'd like.