The ONLY qualification to participate in this 492 kid study was that all the kids (2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders) could do at least one conventional pull up. Some could do a lot more. There were 202 girls and 290 boys (492 kids), all of whom could do at least one pull up.
BMI tests were run on all participants and on one hand it revealed that ALL THE GIRLS scored below 30 so NONE OF THEM WERE OBESE. Eight percent (8%) scored between 29.9 and 25 so they carried a little extra weight. But NINETY TWO PERCENT (92%) scored below 25 which means that if a girl can do even one pull up the odds are better than 9 out of 10 that she’ll carry NO EXCESS BODY WEIGHT AT ALL!
On the boys side, two percent (2%) scored 30 or above and were supposedly obese. Twelve percent (12%) scored between 29.9 and 25 so they carried a little excess weight. And eighty six percent (86%) scored below 25 which is another way to say that NINETY EIGHT PERCENT (86% + 12% = 98%) of the boys who could do at least one pull up WERE NOT OBESE. As for the 2% who were labeled obese, my bet is they were simply victims of BMI’s well known inability to distinguish between body fat and muscle mass.
Dramatically Lower the Odds of Obesity
Any way you slice it, according to this study, the ability to do at least one conventional pull up (any grip) DRAMATICALLY LOWERS THE ODDS OF KIDS BEING OBESE. For all practical purposes then, if you can do at least one conventional pull up (more is always better) YOU ARE NOT OBESE!!
The problem however is, this study is not written on a University, a Medical Association, or a Government Agency’s letterhead so establishment experts refuse to recognize its legitimacy. This is true despite the fact that NONE OF THEM has a study that’s even remotely as promising in terms of systematically preventing childhood obesity.*
Necessity of Empirical Evidence
On the other hand I recognize and fully support the necessity of and need for solid scientific evidence before establishment experts jump on board with any new concept that comes down the road. In this light I have the following suggestions (i.e. challenges) for the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX (one top member of the establishment experts), since they’re the entity that created, publishes, and distributes the Fitness Gram, the test schools use almost exclusively, nationwide to measure students’ fitness levels.
1. Don’t ignore the 492 kid study, which has been its fate so far. If it had been written on University letterhead it would already be international news!
2. Disregard all the data in the 492 kid study because it currently lacks credibility.
3. Go to the closest school system (i.e. Dallas Schools) and ask their PE department to test all students for their ability to perform conventional pull ups (any grip).
4. Select only those students who can perform at least one pull up and run BMI tests on them. Yes, duplicate the 492 kid study using YOUR OWN DATA!
5. Confirm or refute the conclusions of the 492 kid study.
6. If your data confirms the 492 kid study conclusions, write it up on Cooper Clinic letterhead and publish it in the most appropriate education/medical journals.
7. Add pull ups to the Fitness Gram protocol and show PE teachers how to use height adjustable pull up straps and leg assisted pull ups to help all students learn to perform conventional pull ups starting in kindergarten.
8. Eliminate (for all practical purposes) childhood obesity across the nation within a decade or less, and watch related issues like student self esteem, academic performance, school attendance, and behavior improve simultaneously.
9. Arm kids against America’s # 1 health threat (obesity) for life by encouraging them to maintain the ability to perform at least one pull up (which in turn requires decent eating and exercise habits) for the rest of their lives.
10. Save American taxpayers $270 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY (which is the most recent cost estimate according to the Association of Actuaries), and millions of kids across the nation who are otherwise destined to suffer from obesity and the myriad of related problems that follow in its wake.
My question now is will Cooper accept this challenge? Or will they stick with the status quo and continue to support those strategies that to date have failed to produce legitimate, systematic, documented results? Only time will tell. **
*The American Society of Exercise Physiologists has described this functional intervention (Operation Pull Your Own Weight) as “A simple, easily implemented, easily documented, and AFFORDABLE solution to childhood obesity.”
**Any one of a number of other primary players in this field (including at least the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Center for Disease Control, the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Human Kinetics, American Council on Exercise, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, Bill Clinton’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Action for Healthy Kids, for starters) could take similar action on this matter. But my expectations in this regard are...well, let's just say I won't be holding my breath.