Research shows that kids benefit from physical activity
National experts recommend that elementary-age children get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day. Yet, research shows that children are failing to reach even minimal benchmarks for age appropriate physical activity.
Here’s why this matters
Since 1980, obesity rates for children have tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period. Furthermore, data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.
The US Surgeon General has identified obesity (see definition below) as one of the greatest health problems facing the nation today, according to the Center for Disease Control, and has both immediate and long-term effects on child physical and emotional health. It lists the two greatest influences in childhood obesity as high calorie, poor quality diets and inadequate physical activity.
For the first time in generations, children are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to the health dangers related to obesity. Inactivity, combined with poor nutrition, may be lowering the quality of physical health and life expectancy for a generation of children.
Children with higher Body Mass Index (see definition below) have greater difficulty in school adjustment. They have poorer academic achievement, greater susceptibility to bullying and teasing across genders, and more externalizing behavior by girls, greater peer rejection by non-overweight peers, and poorer cognitive functioning compared to normal weight school youth.
Obesity-related diseases previously diagnosed in adulthood are showing up in children, specifically Type II diabetes, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular abnormalities that lead to heart disease. Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.