Go out and playThe dramatic increase in the rates of childhood obesity have been highlighted in newspapers around the world recently. Here in the United States, the problem is a relevant one for our nation's children who, unlike their parents and grandparents, have a lifestyle heavy on inactivity and fast food and light on physical activity.

According to a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the number of obese children in the United States has doubled in the past 20 years, with about one in four American children now being classified as obese. The report suggests that the increase is linked to "growing social prosperity" and a simple matter of eating more and exercising less.

The problem is not limited to children. According to the American Obesity Association, about one-third of adult Americans are also obese: that's around 60 million of us. Obesity also leads to 300,000 excess deaths each year.

Despite the enormity of the problem, the National Institutes of Health spends less than one percent of its budget on obesity research, suggesting that we need to do our own work to combat the problem.

One of the ways to burn calories is to get outside and play. In a case of killing two birds with one stone, parents and children can burn calories and enjoy some good times together if they go outside and play!

Here's a breakdown of how many calories are burned in just a few minutes:

Take your dog for a 30-minute walk 175

Play frisbee for 30 minutes 150

Jump rope for 10 minutes 100

Walk to the park, school or other

activity instead of driving 100 per mile

Ride bicycles for 10 minutes 90

Go swimming for 10 minutes 79

Sources: BBC News Web site (http://news.bbc.co.uk)

American Obesity Association Web site (www.obesity.org)

Runner's World, September 2003

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