Children worldwide, in both developed and developing nations, are not engaging in enough physical activity, according to research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2018; 15 [S251]). The report evaluated global trends using data from 49 countries across six continents. Nations with the most success in supporting active children are Slovenia, Japan and Denmark; the least successful nations are Ethiopia, Venezuela and China.

“Global trends, including excessive screen time, are contributing to a generation of inactive children and putting them on a dangerous path,” said study author Mark Tremblay, PhD, director of healthy active living and obesity research at the University of Ottawa, Ontario. “We have a collective responsibility to change this because inactive children are at risk for adverse physical, mental, social and cognitive health problems.”

Countries with the most active youth have cultural norms that support physical activity as a way of life, such as widespread participation in organized sports or physical activity programs, encouragement of active play, and active transportation—meaning that children have to walk, run, bike or use other active means to go to and from places such as school or recreational settings. Leading contributors to inactivity include modern digital lifestyles, growing urbanization and increased automation.

To learn more, go to activehealthykids.org/.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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