Excess body weight in preadolescent and adolescent youth is a major predictor of early onset type II diabetes mellitus and obesity throughout the life span. Based on CDC growth charts for the year 2000, 12% to 22% of preadolescent American youth are overweight. This represents a threefold increase over the last 25 years. In addition to a diet high in fat and calories, lack of physical activity has been linked to the concern about weight increases in children.
Although most states mandate physical education (PE), and most elementary school youth participate in some form of PE instruction in the United States, many school systems are reducing PE requirements because of higher priorities for academics. In most locations around the country, there is a need to supplement existing elementary school PE curricula with additional physical activity programming outside of the school environment. Youth Fit For Life is an after-school care program of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for preadolescent youth that incorporates a behavioral skills training curriculum, as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.