You know that kids in the United States are likely to be overweight or obese and that inactivity factors into the problem. Now a new study, published in the August 2003 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows just how inactive American kids are.
Almost 2,000 children in Sweden, Australia and the United States, ages 6 to 12, wore pedometers for 4 consecutive school days to help assess their daily activity levels. Height and weight were recorded to determine the subjects’ body mass index. What percentage of kids were classified as overweight or obese based on the findings?
Like kids, American adults are also likely to be overweight or obese. One contributing factor may be community sprawl. A study in the September 2003 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion looked at the health characteristics of more than 200,000 people living in major metropolitan areas. The researchers assessed each county’s degree of sprawl (the condition that exists when communities are so spread out that homes are far from other destinations). The study shows that people living in the most sprawling counties are likely to weigh 6 pounds more than people in the most compact counties and are more likely to be obese. The study also finds that people in sprawling areas walk less—perhaps because distance, lack of sidewalks and other barriers discourage this activity.
Fear may be another reason Americans aren’t out walking—or cycling. In the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that American pedestrians and cyclists were much more likely to be killed or injured than were Dutch and German pedestrians and cyclists, based on both per-trip and per-kilometer calculations.