– The Obama administration announced on Tuesday the creation of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which is intended as a challenge to 1 million Americans of all ages to get more involved in physical activities as a way to maintain good health.

“Despite our past efforts, the human and financial costs of unhealthy lifestyles in our country have become simply unacceptable,” said Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council on Fitness and Nutrition during the launching of The Million PALA Challenge at George Washington University’s Elliott School of Public Affair in Washington. “Never before has our nation faced such dire consequences due to obesity-related illnesses. Never before has our collective mission been more critical than right now.”

While the president’s initiative targets Americans of all ages it is primarily concerned with children’s health and the epidemic of childhood obesity. According to White House data, one out of every three children in America is now obese, and nearly $150 billion per year is now being spent to treat obesity-related medical conditions.

“Childhood obesity places children at a greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer over the course of their lives,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, who sits on the 17-member fitness council. “Many people are worried that if we don’t get this obesity epidemic under control, particularity in communities of color where the prevalence is so high and will cause people to live shorter lives than their parents do now. That would just be a tragedy.”

The Million PALA Challenge is being launched during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, as designed by President Obama’s signing of a proclamation on Sept. 1. The challenge will run from September 2010 – September 2011.

The ambitious goal of the campaign is to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. The campaign is encouraging people of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in moderate to intense physical activities for 60 minutes a day, five days per week for at least six weeks for kids, and 30 minutes a day over the same period of time for adults. A physical activity plan can include, biking, swimming, walking, jogging and aerobic activity.

To receive the President’s Active Lifestyle Award people are encouraged to meet the requirements of the initiative and keep a log of their activities and submit it to a teacher at a participating school.