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Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009

Chinese officials tap IU, U.S. expertise for national youth physical activity plan

April 20, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Senior Chinese and U.S. government health, education and physical activity authorities and Indiana University faculty are meeting in Bloomington next month to craft an ambitious and far-reaching plan -- a blueprint for implementing Sunny Sports China, a directive by Chinese President Hu Jintao to provide daily physical activity for China's 270 million school children.

Sunny Sports China

Chinese students participating in the Sunny Sports China physical activity initiative

Print-Quality Photo

The conference, planned for May 13-15 at IU Bloomington, will convene representatives of China's Sunny Sport Initiative, IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the Indiana State Health Department, national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and national physical fitness and education organizations.

Lloyd Kolbe, the School of HPER's associate dean for global and community health, said the collaboration continues the school's longstanding working relationship with government institutions and universities in China, and he expects the local benefits to spread beyond IU researchers and students. He noted that a recent national study ranked Indiana 50th out of 50 states regarding public health spending and proportion of the workforce trained in public health.

"Our hope is that the work that we do with China will have direct benefits for the state if not the nation," Kolbe said. "The kinds of programs that we can implement in China to improve physical activity and reduce obesity, with some modifications, can be adopted in the state of Indiana and elsewhere."

Kolbe and Robert M. Goodman, dean of the school of HPER, are both noted experts in health program implementation. Goodman, who is conversant in Mandarin, said collaborative international public health initiatives such as this one are an important part of the school of HPER's strategic plan.

Robert Goodman

Robert Goodman

Print-Quality Photo

"China is an important strategic partner for global health," Goodman said. "The more that we at IU encourage interchanges with China that foster the health and quality of life of both nations, the more IU will remain prominent in improving global health and global relations."

Last year, the Chinese government asked Kolbe to help implement Sunny Sports China, new national guidelines requiring the country's 1.6 million schools to provide students with daily physical activity. Before coming to IU, Kolbe served as the founding director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health and has been involved in various health projects in China since the late 1980s.

Kolbe said Sunny Sports China is an attempt to reverse a burgeoning obesity problem in that country. The plan drafted in May will be circulated among top Chinese government officials for approval, and then IU and their Chinese partners will seek funding in the U.S. and China to implement and evaluate the plan.

The School of HPER has international agreements with seven universities in China, including Peking University School of Public Health, Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Public Health and Beijing Sport University.

The conference is funded in part by the IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

For more information, contact Debra Kent at 812-855-3686 and