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Monday, June 17, 2024

Houston’s Fitness Czar is Motivating Greater Houston School Districts to Implement More Fitness

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Ringing in the new year means new campaigns for Houston’s Official “Fitness CzarSamir Becic! With his focus on promoting health and fitness, Samir is no stranger to campaigning- in fact, he famously ran 7 marathons in 8 weeks wearing a 73.5 lbs weighted vest to promote awareness and lived for 6 weeks with a 300 lbs weighted suit to better understand obesity. Reaching national and international levels with his campaigns, he recently sent dedicated and signed books of his HarperCollins published “Resync Your Life” to U.S. political leaders in order to inspire them to continuously motivate Americans to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle.

But, health and fitness are not all he advocates for. A topic near and dear to his heart has always been children. One of his many passions includes helping combat the childhood obesity epidemic by giving kids the information and tools they need to stay healthy and active throughout their lives. With the continuing rise of childhood obesity rates, it is pertinent for him to offer his assistance with implementing more physical activity programs. To begin this journey, he has reached out to public schools within the City of Houston, Harris County, and greater Houston, next he will reach out to the 120 largest school districts in the state of Texas, 80 of the largest private schools in Texas, and then finally, the 100 largest school districts nationwide

Childhood obesity is an ongoing issue in Texas, but an even larger one for Houston. In 2013, Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) conducted by the CDC reported that 17.9% of Houston high school students were obese, compared to 15.7% of high school students in Texas. The Houston Department of Health and Human Services stated that 34% of Houston’s children age 12 and over are overweight or obese. In fact, it was found that children in Harris County could face a shorter lifespan than their parents because they are overweight.

By continuously volunteering his time and efforts of youth fitness through speeches, seminars for school nutritionists, and many partnerships with organizations focused on childhood fitness and nutrition, Samir believes that with proper training and information, students will grow into the powerful young leaders of tomorrow while imparting the core values that our non-profit represents- health, fitness, life balance, perseverance, hard work, determination, and respect to their friends, families, and communities. In efforts to continue pushing his values, he sent a letter to Superintendents explaining the importance of childhood fitness to the 53 greater-Houston area school districts to introduce an opportunity for health and fitness education. 

An estimated 34% of Houston area children aged 12+ are overweight and/or obese. Childhood overweight/obesity rates in Harris County are higher in communities with higher rates of minorities and people living in poverty. For example, data has shown that Northside-Fifth Ward and Pasadena-South Houston communities hold characteristics that suggest children in these communities are at higher risk for developing obesity than others in Harris County.

Data regarding health in Houston Youth:

  • 78% are not meeting the daily recommended fruit intake.
  • 86% are not meeting the daily recommended vegetable intake.  
  • 1 in 4 consume at least one sugary drink per day.
  • 66% of children are considered “inactive.”
  • 78% of Houston high school students did not attend daily Physical Education (PE) classes.
  • 32.7% of Houston high school students reported watching television for at least three hours per day.
  • 16% of Harris County residents do not have a large selection of fresh produce available in their neighborhood.
  • Obese children are more likely to develop health problems at a younger age.
  • 77% of Harris County kids (ages 6-17) do not get the recommended amount of physical activity.
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