Boy Scouts of America Needs to "Be Prepared" to Help Tackle Obesity

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The Children's Obesity Fund, co-founded by Dr. Michael Omidi and his brother Julian Omidi, objects to a recent discriminatory policy of the Boy Scouts of America. At the National Scout Jamboree 2013, Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 and above are banned from participation, a practice that the Children’s Obesity Fund believes sends the wrong message to boys struggling with obesity issues.

Dr. Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, co-founders of the Children's Obesity Fund, disagree with a recent policy mandated by the Boy Scouts of America to ban scout members with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 from participating in the National Scout Jamboree. The Children's Obesity Fund believes that this decision, however well-intentioned, may have a negative effect on those kids dealing with obesity, and kids with larger body types who are otherwise healthy.

The National Scout Jamboree is a ten day celebratory gathering for 30,000 scouts and 7,000 adult scoutmasters organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America – held July 15-24 this year. The Jamboree or 'Jambo' gives boys the chance to meet and interact with other scouts from across the nation and around the world. Activities include mountain bikes and BMX, scuba, kayaking, skateboarding, target shooting and archery. The National Scout Jamboree is one of the most rewarding and memorable events that a boy scout can experience.

“The Boy Scouts Of America has long symbolized the standards of nurturing boys and turning them into strong, confident young men, but their views on BMI may have a negative impact on those members who struggle with their weight and body image,” notes Dr. Michael Omidi. A young boy denied this priceless opportunity will surely be heartbroken.

Instead, the Children's Obesity Fund believes the Boy Scouts of America should be actively involved in educating their members on the health risks of obesity. Much like their long-standing motto ‘Be Prepared’, the Boy Scouts of America must better prepare their boys in areas of personal nutrition, exercise and improved self-image. Exercise and nutrition training and support will incentivize and motivate obese boy scouts and troop leaders to get fit and get healthy so that each and every boy can participate in the Jamboree.

As reported by CNN July 19, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America policy isn’t designed to be exclusionary, but rather to keep all of its membership safe during the Jamboree. However, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a single measure of a person's body shape based solely on numbers for weight and height. BMI is a rough gauge to determine how a person's body weight compares to statistical norms. So a person with a BMI above 30 is defined as obese but without factoring in overall health, muscularity or other differences in body types.

Going forward, the Children's Obesity Fund hopes that the Boy Scouts of America will collaborate with health and nutrition experts to revise its policies and make them beneficial for all boy scouts, not just members struggling with obesity. The more boy scouts can be educated, the better they can help themselves, and each other. They can be “snack buddies” and exercise partners, demonstrating principles of teamwork and brotherhood, skill sets that are part of the proud tradition and legacy of the Boy Scouts of America.

The first National Scouts Jamboree happened in 1937 in Washington, D.C. and attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Starting this year, the Jamboree will be permanently hosted at the Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.

Co-founded by Julian Omidi and Dr. Michael Omidi, the Children’s Obesity Fund (http://www.childrensobesityfund.org) hopes to help reverse the trend of rising obesity rates in America. The goal of the non-profit charity is to help people fully understand the obesity issue and its dire impacts on individuals and society as a whole -- and to use that knowledge to encourage children to grow up strong and healthy. Children’s Obesity Fund partners with other organizations to educate and support parents, educators and others so that we can all work together to raise healthy, active, social, and happy children. While the organization does not accept donations, it does encourage direct contributions of money and talents to the associations featured on our website. Children’s Obesity Fund is on Facebook as well as Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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