National Trends

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and currently, one in three children are overweight or obese.  In the state of Illinois, childhood obesity rates exceed the national average with 34.9% of children considered overweight or obese. In some under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods, these rates exceed 50%.  For the first time in history, today’s generation of  children are on track to have a life expectancy five years shorter than their parents.  But studies have linked increased physical activity not only to improved health, but also to improved academics, better behavior, and increased self-esteem.  

Chicago Run provides a “step-by-step” solution to fight this epidemic.

Childhood Obesity Epidemic

It’s no secret. America is facing a near-epidemic of childhood obesity, and the Midwest is no exception. In fact, recent findings have shown that:

  • Between 1980 and 2004, the percentage of children ages 6-11 who are overweight or obese increased from 6.5% to nearly 19%.

  • Overweight adolescents have a 70% probability of becoming overweight or obese adults, (1).

  • Obesity is a leading risk factor contributing to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, (2).

Why has it become such a problem? Reduced funding for Physical Education in our schools, sedentary lifestyles in children, and poor nutrition. And let’s face it. In Chicago, harsh winters keep our children cooped up indoors for much of the year.

Chicago Run provides a “step-by-step” solution!

Through our unique program in the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago schoolchildren are learning how to use running to promote a more active lifestyle. By running fifteen minutes per day, at least three days a week, the children get exercise that makes them feel good - mind, body, and spirit.


Consider these benefits of Chicago Run’s program:

  • There’s a distinct connection between exercise and alertness - children tend to be more focused in the classroom, after a session of running.

  • The children are building lifelong health habits early on. The importance of staying fit will more likely stay with them since they’re starting at a young age.

  • It’s free for the school to participate and requires no equipment. In fact, the Site Coordinator receives a stipend from Chicago Run to manage their school’s program.

  • It’s all-inclusive. There are no team tryouts, no competitive edges. Kids who may not excel at sports can find something new they’re great at!

  • With Chicago Run incentives and events throughout the year, it’s downright fun.

1. United States Department of Health and Human Services
2. According to the American Heart Association