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National Campaign to Get Kids Physically Active is Working

Last updated March 19, 2020

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

For Immediate Release


National Campaign to Get Kids Physically Active is Working

Survey Findings Prove the VERB Campaign is

Motivating Youth to Get Active

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released results from a survey that indicate physical activity among the nation’s youth is increasing as a result of a national youth media campaign launched by the agency in 2002. The award winning multicultural campaign known as VERBTM had one of the largest effects, a 34 percent increase, in weekly free-time physical activity sessions among 8.6 million children ages 9-10 in the United States.

A telephone survey of 6,000 youth and their parents was conducted in 2002 prior to launching the VERB campaign and it was repeated among the same families in 2003. A rigorous analysis of the data collected made it possible to measure changes in physical activity attributed to the VERBTM campaign among youth ages 9-13 in the U.S. population.

“The results of this evaluation are impressive and substantiate that the VERBTM campaign has surpassed expectations and is responsible for improving physical activity levels among youth,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding. “Our national, multicultural efforts are helping young people to realize that physical activity is fun, cool and can be a part of everyday life. This is critical to reducing the epidemic of overweight among today’s youth.”

The Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey, conducted by an independent research company, also showed that the VERBTM campaign was especially effective in shrinking the gap in physical activity levels between boys and girls. There was a 27 percent increase in free-time physical activity sessions among U.S. girls in the entire 9-13 age range. Likewise, 6 million children from lower-middle income households1 registered a 25 percent increase in free-time physical activity sessions despite the barriers they faced, which included transportation issues, safety concerns and less access to physical activity resources.

In communities2 that received higher levels of VERBTM marketing activity, the increases in physical activity were even more dramatic. The CDC found that the number of least active3 9-10 year olds was reduced by 33 percent as a result of the VERBTM campaign. The number of least active 9-13 year old girls decreased even more, by 37 percent, in these communities. There was a 38 percent decline among least active 9-13 year olds from lower-middle income households.

“Obesity costs the country $117 billion dollars a year in medical expenses,” said Dr. James Marks, director, CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Marketing programs like this one are proving to be successful in reducing the health and economic impact of this disease and are encouraging us to adopt similar strategies to address other priority health problems.”

For more information on the VERBTM campaign, log on to www.cdc.gov/VERB. Also, check out www.VERBnow.com (for tweens) and www.VERBparents.com.

1 Lower-middle income households are those that earn $25,000-$50,000. Lowest income households earned less than $25,000.

2 Communities: Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Columbus, OH; Greenville, SC; Houston, TX; and Green Bay, WI.

3 Least-active children participated in no organized and less than three free-time physical activity sessions during the past week.

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CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 19, 2020
Last updated: March 19, 2020