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Annika Sorenstam Headshot

Making Physical Activity a Part of Our Kids' Lives

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OBESITY
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A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine might help explain why so many dieters have trouble keeping off the pounds they lose. A team of Australian researchers found that after individuals had been subjected to sharply limited diets, their bodies' responded with biological changes that slowed their metabolism and increased their appetites -- causing them to regain weight, even when they were on maintenance regimes.

These reinforce what most of us intuitively understand: The easiest way to achieve a healthy weight is to not become overweight in the first place.

This is especially vital when we look at America's youth. According to the CDC, 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese -- three times the rate of a decade ago. The consequences are grim. Obese children are more likely to grow up into obese adults, putting themselves at risk for health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.

We need to ensure that physical activity is a daily part of our kids' lives.

Since I stepped away from competitive golf at the end of the 2008 season, I have focused on the ANNIKA Foundation to help kids live a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition and offer aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. We have partnered with several key organizations, including SPARK, the leading physical education program for schools; Florida Hospital for Children, supporting its Healthy 100 Kids initiative; and The First Tee, developing the Nine Healthy Habits curriculum for children.
In addition, our Foundation annually conducts three major golf events for aspiring junior girls and in each golf initiative we do, we always stress the positive benefits of getting out on the course, walking and being active. Our tournaments include the ANNIKA Invitational at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida, our award-winning American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) event for 72 of the top juniors from around the world; the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills, which was the first all-girls junior tournament in China and is played on the first course I ever designed; and the ANNIKA Cup, a team event for the top juniors in Sweden in a Solheim Cup format. We also award SPARK grants to schools, have endowed a $100,000 ACE Grant to help underprivileged junior girls compete on the AJGA, and are a financial supporter of Healthy 100 Kids.

Yesterday, I took part in a press conference along with Sheila C. Johnson, owner and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts to announce the Grand Golf Resorts of Florida. My foundation will now have help in promoting healthy lifestyle activities across three golf resorts. Salamander has taken over the management of Reunion Resort in Orlando, which is the home of ANNIKA Academy, my boutique golf and fitness school, Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast and Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, which they have owned and operated since 2007. In addition, Sheila has agreed to join the ANNIKA Foundation board and I look forward to working with her to help kids build active lifestyles and to grow the game of golf.

As First Lady Michelle Obama has said, we need to apply every resource we have to address this obesity epidemic; we need "mayors and governors; and parents and educators; business owners and health care providers -- anyone who has a stake in giving our children the healthy, happy future that we all know they deserve."

I'll keep doing my part; please join me in making active lifestyles a priority for children.

For more information on the ANNIKA Foundation's activities, please visit www.annikasorenstam.com or follow me on twitter @annika59 or Facebook.

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