2009 Report Card on Physical Activity in Kids

So yesterday, while I was en route to New Orleans to participate as a Reviewer for the NIH-NKOD Study Section, the big news in Canada was the release of the 2009 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth by Active Healthy Kids Canada.

The summary of the report makes it clear why monitoring activity in kids is important. Some reasons that particularly affect academic performance include:

– Improvements in cognitive function (memory, concentration etc.)
– Increased self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image
– Increased attention span via increased adrenalin
– Reduced misconduct behaviours at school
– Increased feelings of school connectedness
– Increased ability to relax

Rather than focussing on the health outcomes of increased activity (like physical fitness or weight control), the report this time focusses on the behaviour itself.

Unfortunately the rates are still nothing to write home about:

– Physical activity levels still score an “F” although the number of kids now meeting activity guidelines has increase from 9 to 13%.

– Screen time also scores an “F”, with only 10% of kids getting less than the 2 hrs of recommended maximum daily screen time.

– Active play is rated as “inconclusive” as there are no good national data, but only 50% of younger kids report regularly participating in unorganized sports.

– Transportation scores a “D” with less than a third of children ever having walked to school although nearly two thirds of Canadian families live within walking or cycling distance.

Obviously, despite some improvements since the last report, definitely lots of room for improvement.

New Orleans, LA