The UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind program, which fights childhood obesity by installing comprehensive fitness programs in middle and high schools, has formed an academic advisory council of leading experts in physical education, fitness and wellness.

“As Sound Body Sound Mind approaches its 20th anniversary, our goal is to strengthen our program and increase our impact,” said Matthew Flesock, program manager of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind. “A first-rate academic advisory council of doctors, researchers and other professionals will bolster our ability to serve our schools through sharing a wealth of current research and years of experience.”

The council includes UCLA faculty members Dr. Ming Guo, professor of neurology and pharmacology; Dr. David McAllister, professor of orthopedic surgery and head team physician for the Los Angeles Lakers and director of orthopedic surgery for UCLA Athletics; Dr. Jonathan Fielding, distinguished professor of public health and pediatrics; Michael Prelip, professor of public health; and Dr. Eric Esrailian, co-chief of digestive diseases.

The council also includes Wendy Suzuki, professor of neural science and psychology at New York University; Dr. John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Henriette van Praag, investigator with the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Rachel Lyn Johnson Thornton, assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University; and Darla Castelli, professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas, Austin.

The council of public health and medical professionals will help advise the UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind program’s initiatives.

“Physical fitness programs such as UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind promote brain health, increase sense of well-being and fight obesity, “ said Guo, the council’s chair. “It has been a model in supporting the community outreach at UCLA Health. I am excited to chair this distinguished panel of academic council members, taking advantage of the latest research to help further advance their cause to better serve the community.”

UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind is a physical education program that brings commercial-grade fitness equipment to middle and high schools, along with a physical education curriculum focused on boosting confidence and making participation more enjoyable. To date, the program is in 130 schools nationally and serves more than 160,000 students each year. The Sound Body Sound Mind Foundation was created by philanthropists Cindy and Bill Simon in 1998 and partnered with UCLA Health in 2015.