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Presidential Prize



Time Magazine once dubbed him an "obesity warrior," so it seems fitting that when Dr. James Sallis took home a lifetime achievement award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, he received it alongside the guy who pioneered Tae Kwon Do.

NFL quarterback Drew Brees and Olympic Gold medalist Dominique Dawes presented Sallis with the award during a council meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Sallis was honored for dedicating his career to promoting physical activity and understanding how policy and environment shape activity, nutrition and obesity. Sallis is director of Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which leads the research effort to examine this connection.

Sallis tells The Inside Track that the honor helps validate his lifelong effort to encourage physical activity. In light of the current childhood obesity crisis, sticking to his work over the years hasn’t always been easy, he admits.

"It’s a great honor, especially being a lifetime achievement award. I guess it shows I’ve been doing this a long time," Sallis says. "I see it as encouragement to keep going, and maybe a little bit of a caution that a lifetime might not be enough."

Four other fitness pioneers took home lifetime achievement awards at the council’s meeting, including Sihak Henry Cho, an early promoter of martial arts in America; Robert Dodd, the president and CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union; William McNamara, a longtime physical fitness advocate; and Judith Young, the vice president for programs at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Sallis says it was exciting to meet his fellow award winners and others involved with the council, noting he hoped to make connections during his trip. Meeting Brees also was a thrill, since the current New Orleans Saints star used to play for Sallis’s hometown San Diego Chargers.

"It’s been, and continues to be, a wonderful way to spend your life," Sallis says of his career. "People working in this field are really dedicated to the mission."

More Council News. Handing out awards wasn’t the only thing the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition did this week.

The organization had a huge few days, which kicked off on Monday at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the council is partnering with her initiatives, Let’s Move! and Joining Forces, to help military families get active. Council partners including the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association and the American Council on Exercise will provide health club memberships and personal trainers to the families of deployed reservists and National Guard members, Obama announced.

That wasn’t the only big news. After the council’s meeting wrapped up on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, which will help support the council’s mission to help Americans lead active, healthy lifestyles.