More than 80% of young people between ages 11 and 17 are not exercising enough, according to a World Health Organization-led study based on data from 1.6 million people in 146 countries.
Dr Mark Tremblay, of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada, said in the Journal that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for premature death worldwide.
“The electronic revolution has fundamentally transformed people’s movement patterns by changing where and how they live, learn, work, play and travel, progressively isolating them indoors,” he said.
“People sleep less, sit more, walk less frequently, drive more regularly and do less physical activity than they used to.
“They are increasingly moving from one country to another, from rural to urban areas, from outdoors to indoors, from standing to sitting, from walking to driving, and from active play to digital play.” These changes, he said, could have profound effects on human health.
In the United States, despite a national plan promoting physical exercise since 2010, obesity rates have risen among adolescents, especially those who eat food high in salt and sugar, studies show.
The WHO study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, said many sports in the United States seem designed to attract boys more than girls. The inactivity rate among American girls was 81%, compared to 64% for boys.
Riley said that as teenage activity levels stagnate, rates of weight gain and obesity are growing: “These two phenomenon are of concern. We need to do more if we want to halt the rise in obesity … and promote better rates of physical activity.”
“That four in every five adolescents do not experience the enjoyment and social, physical and mental health benefits of regular physical activity is not by chance, but a consequence of political choices and societal design.”
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