The U.S. President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) advises the U.S. president on developing accessible, affordable, and sustainable programs for physical activity, fitness, sports, and nutrition, for the benefit of all Americans.
The purpose of the PCFSN is to assist the president's administration in providing information and developing programs and initiatives that help empower all Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles through regular physical activity, fitness, participation in sports, and good nutrition. The PCFSN places specific emphasis on the following:
Lack of physical activity and exercise, poor physical fitness, and poor nutrition are growing concerns in the United States and other parts of the developed world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36% of American adults and 17% of children are considered obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Among American youths aged 2 to 19, higher rates of obesity are found in blacks (19.5%) and Hispanics (21.9%) as compared to non-Hispanic whites (14.7%). The incidence approaches 50% among American Indian and Alaskan Native youth. Once almost nonexistent in young people, the incidence of type 2 diabetes in youth is increasing at alarming rates, and around 85% of children and teens with type 2 diabetes are obese. These young people are much more likely to develop serious diabetes-related complications as adults.
These trends are attributed to physical activity levels and eating habits that have changed drastically in recent decades. Children are much less likely to walk or bike to and from school than in the past. Budget cuts and the pressures of high-stakes academic testing have led to reductions in or the complete elimination of school recess and physical education programs. According to a 2016 report by the Society of Health and Physical Educators, while 44 states required physical education in elementary school, only 19 required a specific number of minutes of activity per week.
In the 1950s, research by Hans Kraus and Bonnie Prudden documented a decline in physical fitness among American children, with almost 58% of students failing at least one fitness test component, such as leg lifts, sit-ups, trunk lifts, or toe touches. As a result, in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, at the urging of several prominent politicians and athletes, formed the President's Council on Youth Fitness. Over the years, the President's Council supported research and provided resources and motivation to increase physical education in schools. After its rebranding as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, its mission expanded to include the promotion of physical activity for all Americans. In June 2010, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that added the word “Nutrition” to the council's title and further expanded its mission to include the promotion of healthy eating habits for all Americans.
The PCFSN is composed of presidentially appointed athletes, chefs, educators, doctors, and fitness professionals who, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, advise the president. In April 2017, the acting executive director of the council was Don Wright, who was also the acting assistant secretary of health. PCFSN programs and initiatives are carried out through partnerships with private- and public-sector organizations at the national, state, and local levels and are focused primarily in the areas of education, parks and recreation, fitness, and sports.
One of the major focuses of PCFSN is encouraging Americans to be active through the provision of physical activity guidelines, suggestions, and resources. The council's Physical Activity Outreach Initiative strives to highlight the physical and mental benefits of regular physical activity for children. Its Sport for All Initiatve seeks to educate the populace about the benefits of sports participation and shares strategies for providing sports access to all youth.
The President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program, America's foremost physical activity and fitness initiative, has been a cornerstone of the PCFSN since 1988. The program underwent restructuring in late 2016, and its challenges are operated through partnerships with a variety of foundations and government organizations. The President's Challenge is open to all Americans aged six and older and is aimed at encouraging regular physical activity and fitness. The individual componenets of the challenge include the following:
The Adult Physical Fitness Test was a staple of the challenge until the reorganization in 2016; it was still under a process of review as of early 2017.
For its 60th anniversary, the PCFSN partnered with the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to create the 0to60 Campaign, which aims to inspire Americans of all ages to adopt more healthy and active lifestyles. The campaign features a website and a downloadable app that provide tips, recipes, workout videos, and other resources for healthy living.
The PCFSN is a sponsor of Let's Move!, former first lady Michelle Obama's ambitious campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Let's Move! views schools as key to solving the problems of childhood inactivity and obesity since children spend such a large proportion of their time there. Let's Move! promotes the incorporation of nutrition education and physical education into school curricula. It provides school leaders with resources to help them fund physical activity initiatives, programs, and equipment, as well as before- and after-school activities.
The PCFSN is an affiliate of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan. This is a comprehensive set of policies, programs, and initiatives for increasing physical activity among all segments of the American population. The plan involves hundreds of private- and public-sector organizations, with the aim of creating a national culture of physical activity for the improvement of health, the prevention of disease and disability, and enhanced quality of life. The PCFSN is involved with partner organizations in the education and parks, recreation, fitness, and sports sectors.
The PCFSN was involved in the steering committee, the writing group, and communications teams for the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG). Based on a report by a scientific advisory panel of experts in physical fitness and public health, the PAG was the first such work to be published by the federal government. The guidelines are scheduled to be updated in late 2018.
The Elevate Health, formerly the PCFSN Research Digest, is published quarterly. It covers a variety of physical fitness topics, including means of promoting fitness, physical education in schools, sports, and nutrition.
The PCFSN is involved with Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DAG), which is updated every five years by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services. The DAG forms the cornerstone of the government's science-based nutrition policies and educational activities.
The council also promotes the USDA's School Breakfast Program, which seeks to ensure that schools offer healthy breakfast choices and that low-income students have access to breakfast. Eighty-four percent of students in the program receive their breakfast either free or at a reduced price. In 2016 some 13 million children were participating in the program.
The PCFSN collaborates with the U.S. Department of Education and with various other agencies within the HHS, some of which include the following:
The PCFSN confers awards for national and local contributions to physical activity, fitness, and sports. Since 2006, its Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) has recognized up to five individuals annually for their significant contributions to the advancement of physical activity and fitness. Annual Community Leadership Awards recognize up to 50 individuals for their contributions to physical activity, fitness, or sports programs in their communities. The council also confers a yearly Science Board Honor Award to an individual who has made a major contribution to the advancement and promotion of physical fitness and/or nutrition. Strength in America Awards are given to schools that have demonstrated excellence in the implementation of safe and effective strength and conditioning programs.
See also Body mass index ; Exercise ; Obesity ; Recess and unstructured play .
Newbell, Trillia. “Fitness Gets Presidential.” American Fitness 29, no. 3 (May/June 2011): 52.
Pulgaron, Elizabeth R., and Alan M. Delamater. “Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.” Current Diabetes Reports 14 (August 2014): 508.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Prevalance of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States 2011-2014.” https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf (accessed April 3, 2017).
Let's Move! America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. https://letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ (accessed April 3, 2017).
The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. “Facts and Statistics.” https://www.fitness.gov/resourcecenter/facts-and-statistics/ (accessed April 3, 2017).
Society of Health and Physical Educators. “Shape of the Nation.” http://www.shapeamerica.org/advocacy/son/2016/upload/Shape-of-the-Nation-2016_web.pdf (accessed April 3, 2017).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelinesfor-americans/index.html (accessed April 3, 2017).
American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007-1098, (847) 434-4000, (800) 433-9016, Fax: (847) 434-8000, http://www.aap.org ; http://www.healthychildren.org .
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, GA, 30333, (800) CDC-INFO (232-4636), http://www.cdc.gov .
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.fitness.gov .
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence St. SW, Washington, DC, 20201, (877) 696-6775, https://www.hhs.gov .
Margaret Alic, PhD