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Bush leads physical fitness initiative

White House: 8 million young Americans are overweight

President Bush's fitness initiative seeks to get Americans to set aside 30 minutes daily for physical activity.
President Bush's fitness initiative seeks to get Americans to set aside 30 minutes daily for physical activity.  

From John King
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush kicks off a physical fitness initiative on Thursday, in hopes of persuading Americans to set a goal of 30-minutes of exercise a day.

The White House says that this lifestyle commitment alone would ultimately save the government and private insurers billions of dollars in health care costs.

Bush is naming former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

He has tapped Team USA softball star Dot Richardson as vice chair.

One goal is to raise awareness levels about the dangers of obesity.

White House data on American fitness

  • Diabetes rates among Americans 30 to 39 have risen 70 percent in recent years
  • About 48 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, an activity that can result in disability and premature death for half of those smokers
  • An estimated 60 percent of American adults don't get enough physical activity; more than 25 percent aren't active at all


    CNN Access: Laura Bush and Dr. Sanjay Gupta talk fitness 

    A White House report says 8 million young Americans -- about 15 percent of all children -- are overweight.

    And a Centers for Disease Control report indicates that some 70 percent of Americans don't exercise regularly.

    A key goal of the White House program is to get adults to set aside 30 minutes for physical activity each day.

    The White House report says that if only 10 percent of American adults began walking regularly, $5.6 billion in health care costs associated with heart disease could be saved.

    As part of the new initiative, a new Web site is being established -- will offer diet and physical fitness information.

    At the site, the government's four key suggestions for better national fitness are listed:

  • Physical fitness -- be physically active every day, learning how to make regular physical activity a routine part of your life.
  • Prevention -- get preventive screenings to protect yourself from illnesses you can prevent.
  • Nutrition -- eat healthily as a lifestyle decision, not as a fad; become aware of expert advice on good eating.
  • Avoid risky behaviors -- tobacco use, the White House site says, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
  • The site goes on to offer links to other government health sites, expanding on the president's initiative.


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