Are some of your Cubs getting too chubby? If they’re like many kids, they probably are. A combination of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity is contributing to the huge rise in childhood obesity in the United States.
An Associated Press article just today reported on a group of retired military officers who are lobbying to change the school lunch program because they see the rising obesity rate as a real threat to the military’s ability to recruit fit young people to serve. According to a report issued by this group, “9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too fat to join the military” (“Report says school food making kids unfit to serve,” Jalonick).
Cub Scout leaders probably aren’t going to be able to change something as big as the school lunch program, but leaders should promote healthy choices. In the area of nutrition, you can make sure that you cover the healthy eating sections in all of the Cub Scout level books. You can offer healthy choices for refreshments at Pack Meetings. When an activity includes making a snack with the boys, make it a healthy one. Most importantly, you can model good behavior in your own food choices.
You can also encourage the boys to be as active as possible. This is a great time of year for outdoor activities. Take your Cubs for walks, play games outdoors, and encourage and promote family-centered healthy actitivities. Local organized walks and runs can provide fitness opportunities, fun, and often a chance to support a good cause or local charity. Luckily, none of them are nearly as difficult as the Boston Marathon that was just completed yesterday!
Some upcoming events in Kansas City include the Kids Trolly Run on April 25, the 5K Run for Hope and Family Fitness Walk on May 1, and the Main Street Mile on May 8. There are similar events throughout the summer and fall; some are competitive and have divisions for boys as young as 8 and 9 while some are just for fun. You can find a fairly complete listing at active.com. Run off a list for your Cub Scout families.
Of course, the easiest thing to do is just take a walk in the park, but some boys will thrive on the competition and/or the excitement of larger races. Competing in such events could become a lifelong habit for them! If you as their Den Leader can introduce them and their families to healthier eating and fun fitness, you could make a real difference in their lives.