Globesity and Mission X

Mission X artworkImagine a program for children that would build their core strength and other muscle groups as well. Endurance and agility would also be among the beneficial results. Thanks to the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, there is such a program. “Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut” is an international and educational program that wants children to adopt the concept, “Your body is your spaceship for life.” It issues physical challenges of varying difficulty.

Interested parents and professionals can download a flyer that explains the program. Also downloadable are the Annual Reports starting with 2011. Mission X has a song, and training videos, and a page that lists associated organizations. At the bottom of that page are a very large number of logos.

For Niagara Frontier Publications, jmaloni wrote:

Other activities help kids improve concentration, hand-eye reaction time, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, bone health and high-energy levels, and, in general, promote a healthy lifestyle…To date, children from 29 countries worldwide have participated in the “Mission X” program. Its website uses games, handouts, journaling, videos and podcasts to introduce kids to 18 physical and educational activities adapted from actual exercises used by astronauts to prepare for space exploration.

The head of this project (and many others) is Dr. Youfa Wang, who is a childhood obesity expert and a professor of epidemiology, environmental health, and pediatrics. The doctor’s 15-year-old Systems-oriented Global Childhood Obesity Intervention Program has received over $25 million in grants. The reporter says:

This includes funding from several U.S. federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Also, this program is being developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, whose role is “official collaborative partner.” The researchers work with data collected by NASA from at least 20 countries, and Dr. Wang told the press that his group’s analysis is meant, in turn, to “enhance the design of the program’s data collection instruments.” In other words, a big part of the Mission X mission is to help the government gather even more information.

It seems possible that sponsorship by the U.S. government’s air and space authority, even though it is ostensibly civilian-oriented, could be counterproductive to the global anti-obesity effort. Information gathering, and directives about how to run their countries, might strike a dissonant chord with regimes that are already unhappy with what they perceive as American imperialism, whether cultural, military, economic, religious, or any other kind.

The obesity prevention research team is partly a training program, where novice researchers learn to measure childhood obesity and figure out what causes it. Ultimately, they hope to prevent childhood obesity, and no doubt many good ideas will be engendered. One school of thought holds that a good idea will spread spontaneously, and indeed cannot be stopped, and there is no need to introduce it by coercion.

Bonus Knowledge-Made-Easy Webpage

For, Julia Belluz created a page whose title says it all: “21 maps and charts that explain the obesity epidemic.” Perhaps “explain” is too strong a word, because explaining how this happened is what so many scientific institutions are presently trying to do. It would be more appropriate to say these graphics “illustrate” the problem. Still, the visual aids are very useful.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “About Mission X,”, undated
Source: “UB team partners with NASA to design, implement, evaluate global obesity
prevention programs,”, 01/26/15
Source: “21 maps and charts that explain the obesity epidemic,”, 11/17/14
Image by Mission X

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