By now you’ve likely heard the ominous prophesy made by U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD, in mid-March during a lecture at the University of South Carolina. “Obesity is the terror within,” he said. “Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist attack.” Recent statistics show that about 30% of American adults can be classified as obese and 64% are overweight.

Back in 1964, Luther L. Terry, MD, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. That landmark document, now referred to as the initial Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, was America’s first widely publicized official recognition that cigarette smoking is a cause of cancer and other serious diseases. In short, the committee stated that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.” What would constitute “appropriate remedial action” was left unspecified. But the release of the report was the first in a series of steps, still being taken more than 40 years later, to diminish the impact of tobacco use on the health of the American people.

In retrospect and by comparison, that warning doesn’t seem to foreshadow nearly as powerful a storm as Carmona’s likening of obesity to terrorism. North America—and the rest of the world on its heels—certainly seems to be in serious health trouble. If the four-decade timeline it took for the message about smoking to bear fruit is any indication, then know that we are at the base camp of Mount Everest in the worst of conditions. It will be a very long climb, and it’s clear that many people will be lost to the crevices and uncertain footing of obesity-related failing health along the way.

If we can see a silver lining to all of this gloom and doom, it’s because we know firsthand that dedicated people like you are putting heart and soul into educating and literally moving your communities toward health and fitness. We can stomach the bad news because we hear so much about the shining good that IDEA members are doing. The constant negative reports only serve to fuel us in our resolve and commitment to keep doing what we do best: educating and supporting you, the experts on the frontline.

In July 2003 at the IDEA World Fitness Convention® in Anaheim, California, IDEA launched its Inspire the World to Fitness® mission. Since then, we have heard hundreds of the most incredible and uplifting stories about what you are doing to inspire sedentary people to fitness each year. Many of these accounts have been featured in these pages—and this issue is no exception. Turn to page 55 for very special coverage by author Mary Monroe about the health plight of Native and Aboriginal people in North America. Learn about and be motivated by the amazing work colleagues are doing to humbly offer their experience to tribes in need. These professionals’ invigorating stories offer unique lessons for how to help all communities live in a circle of wellness.

Another special population that can really use your expertise is that of kids and teens. There are three articles in this issue pertaining to working with youngsters, with a feature on page 46 about the growing niche personal trainers are carving out as they illuminate the path to wellness for tomorrow’s future. If any group desperately needs your energy and attention, it’s children of all ages. It’s sobering to imagine that if we don’t intervene and teach them now, they may not be around in 40 years to get the message.

That message is more urgent than ever: The “terror within” described by our surgeon general is a terror we can only live without.

Yours in good health,

Exercise Addiction, page 20. What research says about this unspoken correlate of physical activity.

A Passion for Posture, page 24. IDEA member Marilynn Larkin empowered a group of women to walk tall.

Cardiovascular Medication and Your Client, page 63. Support your client’s heart health with solid programming and basic pharmacology knowledge.

Iron Deficiency Anemia and Exercise, page 82. Are you anemic? Learn the best food sources to prevent iron depletion and sports anemia.

Go With the Flow, page 92. Lead clients through a complete cool-down to cap off a great workout.

Compliance Programming, page 101. Improve exercise compliance by strengthening the mind-body connection.

Kathie and Peter Davis