Childhood obesity, inactivity and poor food choices are taking a toll on today’s youth. In some cases, structured exercise is encouraged for weight management. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t seem to be working.
The rates of overweight and obesity among kids continue to climb. Food choices and inactivity are considered major culprits. Are electronic devices also to blame?
Scientists from the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta have linked use of electronic devices, poor sleep patterns and obesity among Canadian 5th graders. The researchers surveyed sleep habits, food intake, physical activity levels, height and weight measurements, and nighttime use of electronic devices among 3,398 children.
With health threats from overweight and obesity still looming, physical activity in schools continues to be a hot button. How do U.S. children rank when it comes to physical education and exercise? Here are some highlights from the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA:
14% of students did not participate in at least 60minutes of physical activity on any day during the 7 days before the survey.
71% of students were physically active at least 60 minutes per day on fewer than 7 days during the 7 days before the survey.
That 98-pound weakling may want to hit the gym if he hopes to live a long life. A study published in the British Medical Journal (2012; 345: e7279) suggests that male adolescents without much muscle strength may earn early death in adulthood.
The large study included 1,142,599 Swedish males aged 16–19 who were followed for 24 years. The primary focus was to determine whether muscular strength had any impact on mortality rates. Premature death in this study was considered death before 55.
The Federal Trade Commission has released its Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents, and the conclusions indicate that there is still much to be done if industry self-regulation of food marketing to children is to become an effective way to protect the health of minors. The 2012 report is a follow-up to the FTC’s 2008 report, which Congress requested in response to dramatic increases in childhood obesity rates.
Four of the Marketing Methods
When viewing food logos, obese children show less activity in regions of the brain associated with self-control than do their healthy-weight counterparts, reports The Journal of Pediatrics.
Researchers from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the University of Kansas Medical Center tested youth aged 10–14, using both self-reported measures of self-control and functional magnetic resonance imaging, which tracks blood flow as a measure of brain activity.
To help address some of the problems facing youth today—physical inactivity, diabetes and obesity, among them—the Gray Institute has launched the not-for-profit Free2Play.
Utilizing the institute’s Applied Functional Science™, Free2Play aims to improve “movement literacy” and athleticism through “progressive” lesson plans available via online learning with on-demand access. Free2Play doesn’t replace health and fitness programs or curriculum.
Since many schools no longer offer physical education, a lot of fitness professionals are volunteering their time before and after school. This is a great (and needed) community service, but unless you have experience working with kids aged 7–11, you may not be fully prepared for the challenge of corralling them for a cool-down. When kids are having fun, they don’t want to stop, listen and be quiet. The transition from a workout to a cool-down can be tough. That’s why you need a plan.
The following activities offer many creative ways to rein in kids.
It is well known that the United States faces a childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, 81% of respondents in a poll on the topic considered childhood obesity a serious concern and two-thirds believed the problem was getting worse (Hassink, Hill & Biddinger 2011). Actually, national surveys show a stabilization of childhood obesity rates and even small declines in some localities (RWJF 2012).