Best Business Neighbor Finalist: National Football League

National Football League: Fighting Childhood Obesity One Playground at a Time

The NFL PLAY 60 campaign is an example of an organization harnessing its core expertise (sports), talent (NFL players) and resources (NFL games) to inspire and impact the health of an entire generation.


Childhood obesity contributes to the rapidly increasing rate of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, nine million American children (a third of our nation’s youth) are obese or at risk for obesity. More than 60% of children age 9-13 do not participate in any organized physical activity during non-school hours. This is all happening at a time when physical education and recess – typically important times for kids to be active – are being cut nationwide.

Using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recommendation that all kids play actively for 60 minutes a day, the National Football League (NFL) set out to change these startling statistics, establishing the NFL PLAY 60 campaign.

Through the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge and Fuel Up to PLAY 60, the NFL has helped more than 200,000 children achieve the President’s Active Lifestyle Award.

The objective was simple –teach children the importance of physical activity for their long-term health and encourage them to play 60 minutes a day.  The NFL established a multifaceted approach that included:

  • Building awareness by leveraging the reach of NFL Games.
  • Highlighting the sport and engaging players in targeted school and community-based activities.
  • Using key partnerships to expand the NFL’s reach across communities.

What the NFL has Accomplished

The NFL’s efforts to improve childhood fitness are impacting schools and communities across the country. The campaign has helped hundreds of thousands of children become healthier and more active. Some of the program’s results include: 

  • 77,000 schools in the United States are participating in the NFL PLAY 60 program.
  • 200,000 children achieved the President’s Active Lifestyle Award.
  • More than 500,000 students participated in NFL FLAG Football or NFL Punt, Pass and Kick programs.
  • NFL PLAY 60 has awarded $10,000 annually in health and wellness grants to 34 designated “super schools” nationwide.

Additionally, NFL players work with community members to build playgrounds, walking trails, indoor fitness training rooms and tracks, thus far creating more than 120 of these Youth Fitness Zones.

Why This Project Makes Sense

As the obesity epidemic in the United States continues to worsen, communities and companies are realizing that drastic action must be taken to reverse the trend. The NFL is in a unique position as an almost universally recognized and influential brand – something the organization is successfully leveraging to help end childhood obesity.

Through NFL PLAY 60, the NFL saw that to create the biggest difference in kids’ lives, you have to be where they live and spend their time. School and community activities were therefore a critical component of the NFL’s strategy to fight obesity.

The NFL also worked with multiple partners across the country to achieve the greatest reach and relevance in the communities.


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