According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They also are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem, according to the CDCP
The issue of childhood obesity has been pushed into the public’s conscience by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made it her No. 1 cause.
“This generation is on track to be the first generation in America that’s less healthy than their parents,” Obama told WebMd. “That’s outrageous. We don’t have time to wait to do something about this.”
That means encouraging kids to get out and exercising instead of becoming coach potatoes. And very few people have the clout to make that happen like professional athletes.
“It’s very important,” Jones said. “If we show them that we can have good days and not just sit around and play video games, and they look up to us, hopefully they will follow in our footsteps.”
According to eighth-grader Dakota Smith, having members of the Thunder encourage them to get fit could get kids to put down their games and check outside for fun.
“I thought it was really neat,” Smith said. “Because you never really get to meet anybody that’s in sports. Like NBA or MLB. It was like a dream come true. It was really fun. I think it will help. Some kids just play games all day and they don’t realize how bad it is for them.”