Across an ocean of distance, a new initiative is tackling the rising trend of childhood obesity and physical inactivity.
A group called FitIndo recently approached The Cooper Institute about a new project to improve the health and fitness of children across India. After much research, FitIndo leaders chose FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute – the leading evidence-based fitness assessment – as the best choice to measure the fitness of children in the program. Lead by founder Sandeep Chogtu and co-founder Dr. Rahul Pendse, FitIndo is made up of a team of visionaries and educated professionals from various health, fitness and sports education backgrounds.
Chogtu and Pendse recognize the importance of teaching children and families about the benefits of health-related fitness. Their goal is to bring Dr. Cooper’s vision of fitness to India, the second-most populous country in the world with over 1.3 billion people.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Chogtu. His words are a reflection Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s famous mantra, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Physical inactivity is among the leading risk factors for global mortality, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). India currently has the highest number of people with diabetes in the world and less than half of the population is active. By 2025, the country is expected to have over 17 million obese children if something isn’t done now to create healthy habits and reduce the trend of high-risk food and lifestyle choices.
This is the first significant effort in India to improve youth fitness through measured assessment. Chogtu and Pense plan to use FitnessGram to assess the fitness of 4,000 students in the first year and over 1 million students by 2026.
The partnership came after the FitIndo team reached out to The Cooper Institute because of its history and expertise in fitness assessment. In September 2019, representatives of The Cooper Institute visited Pune, Maharashtra in India for a FitnessGram fundamentals workshop that included strategies and best practices for FitnessGram assessment implementation.
FitIndo team members are already working directly with schools and housing societies to bring the FitnessGram assessment to students and families across the state of Maharashtra. After assessing students, FitIndo will share the results with students, parents and teachers to educate communities about health-related fitness concepts.