A new study spearheaded by Nike estimates today’s 10-year-olds can expect to live roughly five years less than their parents — a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen in two centuries. The study, called Designed to Move, is an ambitious report and “action agenda” created in collaboration with more than 70 companies and organizations, meant to show the importance of sport and action in overall health. Worldwide, increasingly sedentary lifestyles combined with poor nutrition choices have led to an onslaught of obesity unlike any other in human history, and economies — along with waistlines — stand to suffer under the heavy burden of heavier people. Designed to Move hopes to curb that trend before it’s too late by reemphasizing the importance of physical activity, and maybe even redesigning our cities in the process.
In 2010, Nike started recruiting organizations — including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), the two other lead groups on the downloadable report — to develop an agenda to stop the obesity crisis before it’s too late. The report stands on surprisingly more ideological ground than its corporate origins might suggest. Released earlier this month, Designed to Move outlines the current worldwide trend toward inactivity and proposes sweeping reforms from local to governmental levels.
The 120+ page report focuses on today’s youth through two main “Asks.” 1. Create early positive experiences for children and 2. Integrate physical activity into daily life. The study claims that across the globe, children are moving less than ever, which puts them at a developmental disadvantage that increases the likelihood of preventable disease. But beyond the purely physical, Designed to Move’s authors argue that because exercise increases productivity and has been tied to boosts in cognitive development, the drop in activity hurts global economies from all angles.
Designed to Move doesn’t advocate a single regime or specific program for reforms, instead emphasizing “the effort of being physically active… rather than what is being played, the skill level or the points won or lost.” The suggestions it makes — encouraging schools and communities to get kids moving — involve increasing access to outdoor spaces and prioritizing physical education. Ironically, these are issues the world’s developed countries could have the toughest time overcoming.
Interested in reading the whole thing? Designed to Move features some great interactive graphics and info, but the most worthwhile takeaways are buried in the second half of the full report, away from the flashy graphics and branding. If the program’s authors and fans expect this effort to become anything more than a viral flash in the pan, they’ll have to turn their impressive web campaign into real world action. If not, their efforts to get society’s youngest members active won’t move very far.
Check out the full report — and embedded video below — and let us know your thoughts in the comments, or find the author at @d_tao.