“Making overweight children to do more physical activity won’t help them to shed the pounds, according to a British study”, says the Daily Mail, Saturday 29th September 2012.
So here we go again, the easy way out. We don’t need to invest in exercise programmes and promoting sport to children and teenagers, because calorie counting will have more effect, says a new study from Plymouth University. The Daily Mail online says “Researchers found that ‘exercise interventions’ had a negligible effect. Experts suggest that the answer to curing childhood obesity instead lies in reducing calories in the diet.”
As trainers, most of us clearly understand that good nutrition is key to any weight loss – or sensible weight maintenance – programme. But that will be a programme based on understanding the value of different food types, reducing (ideally eliminating) sugary and processed foods, and learning to “eat clean”. It will not be based on anything as fickle as calories. Surely years and years of calorie counting to no long term avail should have taught us all that?
The last thing I would want to put before overweight teenagers is an unhealthy obsession on calories. I would want them to discover the joy of real food, and preparing meals from scratch, with a wide range of natural foods, not to view food as a mathematical equation.
Moreover, I believe we need to promote sport and fitness as part of a healthy way of life. Okay, so it may not affect weight loss in the way we previously thought. But it creates body awareness, promotes muscle gain and fat loss, releases endorphins and is a positive influence on the body. The social aspect of sport should not be undervalued either. Where a teenager joins a sports club, and begins to participate once or twice a week, that is time away from the fridge or the couch, and time instead for gaining new friends and outside interests. Teenagers NEED us to invest in their health, and we are in a good position to get involved.
If you are not already a SportMaker, or working with children and teenagers at club level, you might want to consider if that is an area you would like to specialise in. At FASTER, we are soon to launch a new course that brings a focus on this training. The new course, Specialist in Youth Training, has been developed to help get great movements to our next generation.