In response to a request for comments by the federal Task Force on Childhood Obesity regarding ways to stem the epidemic of obesity in American children, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon submitted recommendations last month that outline the health benefits of RVing and encourage an increase in RVing among American families.
The full text of Coon’s comments, as published in the current issue of RVIA Today Express, are reprinted below.
“The Task Force goals of encouraging children to eat healthy, affordable food and engage in more physical activity are directly supported by the outdoor recreation and camping experiences enjoyed by recreation vehicle (RV) owners.
In a February 2010 study by Harris Interactive, 81% of RV owners said that children who RV spend less time on sedentary activities like TV and video games. 72% of RV owners also stated that traveling by RV helps families make healthier eating choices during vacations, because they are able to purchase and prepare their own foods, affordably, on the road. 74% of owners surveyed by RVIA in its March 2010 “Campfire Canvass” survey said they are more active on RV vacations than on other types of family vacation.
To meet your objective of increasing physical activity in communities, we encourage the Task Force to recommend that federal, state and local governments take action to promote recreation visits to the nation’s parks. This should include development of policies to ensure that public lands offer access and facilities to RV visitors, thereby facilitating the healthful vacation experiences enjoyed by the nation’s 30 million RVing families.
We further recommend that the Task Force embrace key events like Great Outdoors Month in June and National Get Outdoors Day to encourage healthy activities that will appeal to children throughout their lives — because they are fun. The First Family should be invited to embrace these events and outdoor activities through personal involvement.
Another important action the Task Force can take to help increase physical activity is to put a new focus on recommended steps/activities per day by setting a specific goal, and suggesting activities at all federal recreation sites to achieve this goal. For example, a national park, forest or wildlife refuge – all popular destinations for RV travelers — could list walking trails as fulfilling a certain percentage of daily recommended activities for families.
To meet the objective of empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families, we encourage the Task Force to coordinate the development of and promote to the public an online public-private sector clearinghouse of healthy lifestyle resources. This should include outdoor recreation and RV camping sites such as GoRVing.com. We further suggest that the Task Force work with RVIA and other RV organizations to encourage RV owners with grandchildren to take them to fun outdoor recreation sites where physical activity is the focus.
To build major public support for the goals of increasing physical activity and healthy eating, we recommend in closing that the First Lady lead a national “Get Healthy Outdoors” campaign — much like the “See America First” campaign headed by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in the 1960s to encourage visits to national parks and other American destinations.
Thank you for this opportunity to provide input on the important work of the Task Force of Childhood Obesity.”