Let There Be Dancing – and Fit, Right-Sized Kids


The childhood obesity epidemic is a problem that looms so threateningly that a large variety of methods must be sought to deal with it. That’s why Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative came up with 70 recommendations. A great many of them, of course, mention physical activity. One of the physical activities most likely to attract participation is dance.

It would be great to see more after-school programs, community-center programs, and neighborhood groups encouraging dance, especially for kids. A program called Zumba is currently wildly popular all over the globe. Journalist Kate Newton calls it “exercise in disguise,” and describes how it started:

A kind of aerobics-Latin dance fusion, the now well-trodden explanation of Zumba’s origin is that Colombian fitness instructor Beto Perez forgot to bring his usual aerobics tapes to class one day, so he improvised a routine to the Latin dance tapes he had in his backpack.

Zumba is said to be a lot of fun, and within the abilities of almost any child, even kids who think of themselves, or are thought of, as uncoordinated. It’s mainly effective as a cardiovascular workout, rather than a direct obesity cure, though it does improve flexibility and suppleness of motion. In the fitness realm, one thing leads to another, and anything that motivates kids to get up and move is a force for the good.

Another thing about Zumba is that it seems to be adaptable across economic strata. According to a multitude of polished websites constructed by Zumba instructors in various cities, it’s rather pricey, and too product-oriented for many parents’ taste. However, the session Newton observed took place at an inner-city church in New Zealand, and the photo on our page is from a very informal class in a Missouri community.

On TV, the Oxygen channel offers a show called “Dance Your A** Off,” in which the chubby-tubby contestants, with the help of professional trainers, compete to lose the most weight. Their routines are also graded, of course.

This show is a source of “thinspiration” to many viewers, although its appropriateness is a source of worry to some parents. Kari Croop has put together a really comprehensive overview of the program, from the parental point of view. She assesses its value in terms of the messages and role models presented by “Dance Your A** Off,” and the kinds of issues it can stimulate discussion of, with our kids.

So, how about it? Let’s hear about your thoughts and experience with either of these programs.

Source: “Exercise in disguise,” Stuff.co.nz, 04/29/10
Source: “Dance Your Ass Off,” Common Sense Media
Image by Trailnet, used under its Creative Commons license.

0 Responses

  1. This site is great! I think the zone diet should be taught in schools, to everyone as a way of life. It took my cravings for sugar away! I lost 53 lbs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources