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It’s no secret that today’s girls face countless obstacles such as peer pressure, violence, inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity.
Research shows that girls who are physically active and involved in healthy-lifestyle programs have higher grades, are more likely to graduate, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to drink, use drugs, or engage in risky behaviors. Physical Health
In 1970 one in 21 girls was overweight. Today, one in six girls is overweight, and that means serious health problems now and in the future. Girls of color are at an even higher risk.
- If current trends continue, 40 percent of girls born in 2000 will develop Type II diabetes as adults (Narayan et al. 2003).
- This is not just a health problem – it’s a financial problem. Weight related medical expenses cost the U.S. more than $92 billion dollars in 2002 (CDC 2007).
Few Opportunities to Be Active
Illinois requires daily physical education, but school districts may apply for waivers to be exempt from the law.
- In Chicago, 79 percent of elementary school students have gym once per week (CLOCC 2005).
- Even when schools offer gym, girls participate less than boys. Eighty-four percent of urban 11th and 12th grade girls do not attend gym, compared to 48 percent of boys (Women’s Sports Foundation 2008).
- Less than half of children get enough exercise every day (CDC 2008), but most children spend nearly six hours each day in front of a television or computer (NIH 2008).
For many Chicago families, eating healthy is a major struggle because of a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
- In predominately African American neighborhoods, the closest grocery store is likely to be a mile or more away (Northeastern Illinois Community Food Security Assessment 2008).
- Almost 20 percent of teen girls skip breakfast every day and more than 60 percent skip breakfast once a week (Girl Scouts 2006).
Girls’ self-esteem dramatically falls as they reach adolescence compared to their male counterparts, who experience increased self-esteem.
- Forty-two percent of first- through third-grade girls want to be thinner, and by age 17, seventy-eight percent are unhappy with their bodies (Women’s Sports Foundation).
- Self-esteem is not just about looks – it’s also about abilities. Girls think they are less athletic than boys (Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport 2007).
Girls in the Game is working to reverse the numbers—one girl at a time,
3,000 girls a year.
But it can’t be done alone. Get in the Game.