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Are after-school programs keeping kids fit?

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 01 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 03 2012 03:21:51 PM CDT

British health experts say after-school programs aren't working out to help young people fight the battle of the bulge.

British health experts say after-school programs aren't working out to help young people fight the battle of the bulge.

But local experts say the study fails to look at the big picture and overall results.

Pictures of children playing and having fun line the wall at the Boys and Girls Club of Easton.

"When you talk about obesity, there are some kids, if they are not going to put the practice into it on a regular basis, they are not going to see the improvement," said Dean Young, executive director of the Boys and Girls club of Easton.

A study done by British researchers at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry looked at 14,000 in the U.K. and U.S. and found after-school programs had a small effect in increasing physical activity in children.

Wayne Stephens, an exercise physiologist, said they need to look at the big picture.

"We like to consider it as lifestyle management," said Stephens. "Here at our center, with lifestyle management, we encompass behaviors, meal planning and physical activities. It's kind of a pyramid."

While the study showed the weight loss gains may not be huge, organizers at the Boys and Girls Club of Easton said the social aspect needs to be weighed as well.

"Ninety percent of the time is spent in the gymnasium," said Young. "That's the place where kids can create friendships. They also learn how to socialize."

Another key is making sure parents stay involved in the child's activity. For the Boys and Girls Club of Easton, that will be important.

"Without the gymnasium, you're talking about a huge part of what we do," added Young.

The club is replacing this 20-year-old floor. The gym will be closed for the next nine days. Next week, organizers said, they will be open and ready to help kids in all aspects.