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Weighing In on Our Unfit Youth

TC Professor of Health Education John Allegrante, an outspoken advocate for children's physical fitness, has co-authored what he describes as an "action text book" on health that's aimed at teenagers.

TC Professor of Health Education John Allegrante, an outspoken advocate for children's physical fitness, has co-authored what he describes as an "action text book" on health that's aimed at teenagers.

Titled simply Health, the book--written with B.E. Pruitt of Texas A&M University and Deborah Prothrow-Stith of the Harvard School of Public Health--offers test prep sections that ask questions like, " What are cluster suicides and what can be done to prevent them?"; suggests strategies for refusing an alcoholic drink proffered by peers; features writing assignments in which teens analyze product advertisements that "take advantage of a teen's search for self"; and explains the difference between pathogens and other microorganisms.

Each chapter includes a "Building Health Skills" section that poses hypothetical challenges--an open fracture; water in school drinking fountains that tastes or smells unpleasant; balancing a family budget in the face of rising health-care costs--and offers a vocabulary review of terms such as "pre-adolescent" and "side effects." Why worry about the health smarts of young people?

Studies connect physical activity with brain development and class room performance. The implications for the nation's health-care system of ignoring those findings are staggering. Or as Allegrante himself might put it, inaction - and ignorance - would be decidedly unhealthy.

Published Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2006

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Weighing In on Our Unfit Youth

TC Professor of Health Education John Allegrante, an outspoken advocate for children's physical fitness, has co-authored what he describes as an "action text book" on health that's aimed at teenagers.

Titled simply Health, the book--written with B.E. Pruitt of Texas A&M University and Deborah Prothrow-Stith of the Harvard School of Public Health--offers test prep sections that ask questions like, " What are cluster suicides and what can be done to prevent them?"; suggests strategies for refusing an alcoholic drink proffered by peers; features writing assignments in which teens analyze product advertisements that "take advantage of a teen's search for self"; and explains the difference between pathogens and other microorganisms.

Each chapter includes a "Building Health Skills" section that poses hypothetical challenges--an open fracture; water in school drinking fountains that tastes or smells unpleasant; balancing a family budget in the face of rising health-care costs--and offers a vocabulary review of terms such as "pre-adolescent" and "side effects." Why worry about the health smarts of young people?

Studies connect physical activity with brain development and class room performance. The implications for the nation's health-care system of ignoring those findings are staggering. Or as Allegrante himself might put it, inaction - and ignorance - would be decidedly unhealthy.

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