Trends and Things to Watch
Combating Childhood Obesity
Like with adults, combating obesity in children is an issue that many have gotten behind. Concern about the activity level of American children (or lack thereof) has been a topic of discussion since the 1950s when a report released by Kraus-Weber rose concerns about the physical condition of American children in comparison to their European counterparts. Not long after the release of the report, President Eisenhower used an Executive Order to create the President's Council on Youth Fitness (now called President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, or PCFSN) that eventually led to what is today known as “The President’s Challenge.”
However, since 1980 obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled meaning approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese.3 These numbers have shone a bright spotlight on the general lifestyle for minors, and have led to new initiatives and legislation.
For years there have been many fitness franchises that catered to children such as Gymboree and The Little Gym. But, one franchise that has made providing healthy food to children the centerpiece of its mission is Wholesome Tummies. Founded by two working mothers in 2007, Wholesome Tummies is one of the foremost examples of a combination of healthier eating mission and a franchise business plan. The mission of Wholesome Foods is to “make fresh, nutritious and exciting foods available to every child everywhere,” especially at school. The company has three programs for providing healthier meals available to school kids at lunch:
- Delivery, where lunches ordered online are delivered right to school,
- On-Site, where a full service dining program is established for schools with kitchens, and
- Catering, mostly done to make school events memorable through creative menus.
Motivation from Employers
As if the internal feelings and benefits of being healthy weren’t enough, some employers are giving their employees an extra push when it comes to staying fit. One of The Huffington Post’s trends for 2012 is an uptick in the number of worker incentive programs geared towards health. According to the media outlet, “Employers want you to stay fit. Not only does your good health mean fewer missed days of work, it also lowers their annual health care bill. Now many corporations are offering bonuses, discounts and other perks for exercising employees.” 4
These incentives are impacting franchises in various ways. For example, according to a survey done on the behalf of Anytime Fitness, members of the franchise fitness center received almost $4 million in health insurance reimbursements for working out 12 or more times per month in 2011, up about $1 million from the previous year. Anytime Fitness does its part in accommodating working members by opening at non-traditional hours encourage more people to work out. 5