In an age when research studies claim that 20% of American kids are obese by the age of 4; when physicians declare that they’d like to reverse childhood obesity, but they don’t know how to do it; when parents are so thoroughly confused by all the conflicting reports that they don’t know what to do, there is one physical educator who has some real, documented evidence we should all consider.Her name is Debbie Larson and she teaches at Galloway Elementary School in Channahon, IL, a small town about 40 miles south of Chicago. Galloway School is made up of second, third, and fourth graders, 538 kids in total.None Were Obese!Each fall and spring Larson measures her student’s performance in a battery of tests that includes pull ups. In doing so this past spring she noticed that 181 of her 538 kids were able to do at least one pull up. And of those 181 kids who could do at least one pull up, NONE WERE OBESE. That is to say one-third of her students could do at least one pull up and according to conventional BMI standards, NONE WERE OBESE.What’s in the Water?But that’s not the whole story. As it turns out only 1.5% of the group had BMI readings over 30 (which defines obese), while only 7% had BMI readings between 25 and 30 (which defines overweight). In total 91.5 % of Larson’s students fell below the 25 yard marker. And then we have those 181 kids mentioned earlier, all of which raises the question what’s in the water of Galloway Elementary School that makes it so unique?We Take it SeriouslyIn answer to that question Larson said, “All I can tell you is that we take Physical Education seriously and we work on motivating our kids to eat right and get plenty of exercise. But,” she said, “I was particularly interested in those 181 students who so convincingly demonstrated that pull ups and excess weight have a natural tendency to repel each other.”Becoming Obesity FreeAs the result, next fall Larson plans to add a new ingredient to the Galloway formula with which she aims to double the percentage of kids who can do at least one pull up next year. “And if we can double that percentage for two consecutive years,” Larson said, “Galloway will have beaten childhood obesity. This will be a school full of kids who are strong, lean, and who have effectively immunized themselves against obesity for life as long as they simply maintain the ability to do pull ups. That’s our goal. Now,” she added “does anyone else want to take the Pull Your Own Weight challenge along with us and rid their own school of childhood obesity?”
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