Scouts Tackle Obesity Issue

Scouts Tackle Obesity Issue
People who recite the Boy Scout Oath promise to keep themselves ‘physically strong.’ That goes for adult leaders, too. It’s time for you and your Scouts to get fitter and faster—and avoid missing out on Scouting’s greatest adventures.

What Bob Shanahan saw troubled him. The Scoutmaster of Troop 121 in Clinton, N.J., led “modest hikes” of about three miles, with short, gentle climbs. Shanahan, 50, and not particularly athletic, easily handled the hikes. The Scouts, however, couldn’t keep up. Many were overweight.

“The kids would ask me, ‘Mr. Shanahan, can we stop now?’” he says. “They were out of breath. It scared the you-know-what out of me.”

Shanahan’s not the only one who’s frightened.

Overweight, out-of-shape kids in the United States represent a problem of epidemic proportions, one that threatens to create a public-health crisis in the years ahead. And Scouting’s not exempt.

“In my travels, I see many bright, smiling faces,” reports Chief Scout Executive Robert J. Mazzuca. “But all too often, I also see evidence of unhealthy lifestyles among our young people.”

Unfortunately, youth and leaders in Scouting are every bit as overweight as the rest of the population—if not more so, says Ruth T. Reynolds RN, BSN, and medical coordinator for the Boy Scouts of America.

Body-mass index (BMI) data collected from applicants for the 2010 National Scout Jamboree show that 41 percent of the youth were overweight or obese; among the adults, a staggering 77.5 percent were overweight,…
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