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Childhood inactivity 'worse than feared' – and reaching crisis levels

By Tom Walker    28 Nov 2018
Modern lifestyles are contributing to a public health problem that is now reaching 'crisis levels'

Children in developed countries are not moving enough to maintain healthy growth and development – according to a report by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA).

AHKGA studied current activity levels in 49 countries across six continents as part of a project to assess global trends in childhood physical activity.

The resulting report revealed that modern lifestyles – epitomised by increases in screen time, the growing urbanisation of communities and the rise in automation of previously manual tasks – are contributing to a public health problem that is now reaching 'crisis levels' and should be recognised as a 'global priority'.

“Global trends, including excessive screen time, are contributing to a generation of inactive children and putting them on a dangerous path,” said Professor Mark Tremblay, AHKGA president and senior scientist at CHEO Research Institute in Canada.

“We have a collective responsibility to change this because inactive children are at risk for adverse physical, mental, social and cognitive health problems.

"This generation will face a range of challenges, including the impacts of climate change, increasing globalisation, and the consequences of rapid technological change.

"They will need to become habitually physically active in order to grow into healthy, resilient adults who can survive and thrive in a changing world.”

The report also offers examples of campaigns and initiatives undertaken by countries with the most active children and youth overall – such as Slovenia, Zimbabwe and Japan.

While each rely on very different approaches to get kids moving, they share one consistent – that physical activity is driven by pervasive cultural norms.

"Being active is not just a choice, but a way of life," said Peter Katzmarzyk, AHKGA vice president and associate executive director for public health at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in the US.

"And there's much we can learn from each other to improve activity levels around the world.

“Physical inactivity is a global concern and can no longer be ignored. For the good of our children’s health and futures, we need to build physical activity into all societies, and change social norms to get kids moving.”

Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance  AHKGA 
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