- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When it comes to childhood obesity, the nation’s capital ranks No. 1. Currently, 22.8 percent of D.C. youths are overweight. That compares with rates of 14.8 percent nationally, 13.8 percent in Virginia and 13.3 percent in Maryland, according to worldlifeexpectancy.com. The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation is trying to push down those numbers.

Partnering with GlaxoSmithKline’s FitU program, the foundation unveiled a new Youth Fitness Zone at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Clubhouse No. 14 on Benning Road Northeast. More than 100 youths participated in fitness drills conducted by Redskins Antwaan Randle El and Renaldo Wynn on Sept. 22.

The children and their parents also listened intently as Mr. Wynn and Mr. Randle El talked about the importance of nutritious eating, an overall healthy lifestyle and staying active.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that youths accumulate 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Also, the National Association for Sport & Physical Education recommends physical education a minimum of 150 minutes per week in elementary school and 225 minutes per week in middle and high schools.

Mr. Randle El, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Riverside, Ill., said his father always kept him and his brothers active. He also said schools should have physical education classes.

“You have to be fit, you have to be in shape, you have to eat right,” Mr. Randle El said. “You can’t just come home from school, sit on the couch and play video games. I would plead for state and city governments to implement gym classes in schools.

“In my day, we had gym class every day. … My dad was like, ‘You’re not just going to come home and sit down, you’re going to do something.’ That’s the way it was. He kept us involved in everything, whether it was football or baseball or basketball or track.”

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