Bush, Football MVP Team for Fit Challenge

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WASHINGTON - President Bush has teamed with the Super Bowl's most valuable player, Eli Manning, to launch the battle against obesity.

The Obesity Epidemic

Since a slim John Travolta strutted in Saturday Night Fever back in 1978, America's obesity has escalated to an epidemic.

In the last three decades, obesity rates doubled among adults, and tripled among adolescents.

Seventeen percent of America's children are now overweight and 66 percent of adults are overweight, or obese.

To tackle the health crisis, the President has drafted Manning of the New York Giants.

The Super Bowl champion quarterback kicked off the National President's Fitness Challenge in Washington, where he spoke to CBN News.

"America is in trouble in their fitness. People are unhealthy. They're unfit. They're obese. They're overweight, and something needs to be done," Manning said.

It's Manning's job to stay in shape, but he says all Americans can get more active by logging on to President's Challenge  and just commit to 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for six weeks.

Manning said, "My goal is to win a championship and to win football games, and my physical fitness is a major reason for being able to be successful in my job. For normal Americans and citizens, you do have to find something to motivate you. If you're having trouble, just say it's your life, it's your health."

The Dangers of an Expanding Girth

Expanding waistlines raise the risk of premature death, and diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

Surgeon General Stephen Galson blames poor diet and sedentary lifestyles and for the fattening of America.

"People are spending more time on computer terminals, more time playing video games, and we've just fallen behind what we need to do for physical activity," Galson said.

Fitness expert Denise Austin was less generous.

"People are lazy," she said. "I think they need to get off that couch and move their muscles more. Food isn't the enemy. Sitting still is the enemy."

Austin says even moderate exercise can improve your health.

"Get out there and do something, even if it's tightening your tummy right now for 10 seconds, or squeezing your buttocks when you're standing in line at the grocery store. It works!" she said.

Whether a fitness coach, Super Bowl champ, or armchair quarterback, the experts say it's parents that can best help their kids get in the game.

"The biggest thing my parents did was they just promoted us being outside and being active. They wouldn't allow us to sit all day and watch TV," Manning said. "Try to get outside and get involved with your kids. Get your kids involved with sports. And while they're playing soccer, you can walk the field."

It's a first step to reversing a national epidemic, and starting a fitness trend.

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Melissa Charbonneau

Melissa Charbonneau

CBN News White House Correspondent

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