Donald Trump’s Surprising Plan to Make Kids Healthier Might Be His Most Controversial Move Yet

Donald Trump cares about the health and safety of America’s youth — and sports. At least, that’s what his fitness and nutrition policies have tried to convey thus far.

When kids head off to school every morning, they rely on their schools’ teachers and staff to teach, feed, and protect them. While it looks like overall participation in team sports may soon be on the rise, many are having trouble seeing the overall benefits of the president’s plan.

Trump abandoned ‘Let’s Move!,’ Michelle Obama’s kids’ health program

Michelle Obama book

Michelle Obama worked hard to improve kids’ nutrition. | Crown

In early 2018, Donald Trump and his administration pledged to change the way kids eat and play. Former first lady Michelle Obama helped launch several programs focusing on education and healthy eating, with a particular focus on kids. Some of these programs are officially extinct.

Many children, especially those from low-income families, depended on school lunches and in-school physical activity to stay healthy. So far, Trump’s changes — big and small — seem questionable.

Next: Did “Let’s Move!” actually make America healthier?

What did ‘Let’s Move!’ accomplish?

packed school lunch

Let’s Move! focused on healthier diets and exercise. | CreativaImages/iStock/GettyImages

One of the biggest differences between “Let’s Move!” and Trump’s 2018 action plan is the former’s focus on food and nutrition. The former first lady’s program claimed it improved access to healthy foods for kids, especially in schools, while also providing more opportunities for school-aged kids to remain active.

Most health experts agree that focusing on exercise and healthy eating together, instead of just one or the other separately, is the most effective way to improve your overall health.

Next: This is the real reason Donald Trump decided to step in.

There’s been a significant decline in children’s team sports participation

American Football on the Field

Fewer kids are playing sports. | 33ft/iStock/Getty Images

According to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, “during the past decade youth participation in team sports has declined.  As of 2016, only 37 percent of children played team sports on a regular basis, down from 45 percent in 2008.”

Donald Trump plans to give members of this council the responsibility of improving team sports participation rates among kids. It might work — but it might also fail to fix the problem.

Next: Fewer kids are working out overall.

Kids also aren’t as healthy as they used to be

remote pointing at TV

Kids are getting increasingly sedentary. | Gpetric/iStock/Getty Images

Granted, the overall health of the U.S. population as a whole isn’t looking so great in comparison. However, fewer kids today are meeting daily physical activity requirements or eating well-balanced meals three times a day. This matters.

In 2014, only 21.6% of children and adolescents exercised 60 minutes a day, five days a week, or more. This aligns with the claim made by the President’s Council that fewer children are playing sports, implying that any physical activity — sports or otherwise — would benefit kids compared to none.

Next: Here’s what Donald Trump plans to do about it.

‘Let’s Move!’ is out — team sports are in

The new plan calls for an emphasis on sports. | Source: iStock

Sports are the new emphasis in the Trump administration’s plan to improve children’s health throughout the country, according to the 2018 executive order on the subject.

The order’s purpose was to “expand and encourage youth sports participation, and to promote the overall physical fitness, health, and nutrition of all Americans.” Donald Trump claims sports are vital to the health of not just kids, but the nation as a whole.

Next: Do parents and their kids really benefit from sports?

The order claims team sports are good for working parents

Spalding in-ground basketball system

Are parents keeping their kids out of sports? | Karen Bennett/Cheat Sheet

Trump and his administration claimed that “youth sports help working parents and guardians by providing their children opportunities to engage in productive, positive activities outside of school.” Is this statement true?

One article in the Washington Post claims parents are actually to blame for the recent decline in sports participation. Kids with more skill get to go on playing, while everyone else essentially gets left behind with no chance at scholarships or quality practice time. Not to mention the pressure many parents force upon their elite athlete kids to excel physically, academically, and so on.

Next: A lot of kids do benefit from participating in sports … but maybe not all of them.

Do kids really benefit from sports participation?

There are undeniable benefits to kids playing sports. | iStock

Participating in sports can help many children stay fit, build confidence, and learn how to work (and play) well with others. Kids who join sports teams also tend to perform better academically on average than those who don’t, but this might be the case with extracurricular activities across the board.

No one’s denying sports are great for kids physically, socially, and psychologically. Is it a good idea to make this type of physical activity a primary focus in schools and elsewhere, though?

Next: We know the benefits — but what are the risks?

What are the risks to involving your child in team sports?

MRI brain scan

Millions of kids get sports-related injuries every year. | iStock.com/Movus

There are benefits and drawbacks to any type of physical activity at any age. The CDC warns that over 2 million children are treated in emergency room departments every year for sports and recreation-related injuries. If a coach or parent can’t guarantee a child’s safety in these events, this type of physical activity simply might not be the best option for them.

Team sports can be beneficial for many. But it’s also important to implement programs to keep all children healthy, happy, and active, even those who cannot, or choose not to, play sports.

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