Youth in Manitoba lack physical activity and nutrition, which has led to one of the highest rates of childhood obesity and weight issues in Canada, and to high levels of chronic diseases like diabetes.
• 31% of Manitoban children are overweight/obese compared to 26% of Canadian children on average
• 59% of Manitoba youth are not active enough for optimal growth and development
• Almost half of Canadian children and youth spend three or more hours per weekend day on the computer, which ranks one of the highest in the world
• 4 in 10 Canadian children have a least one risk factor for heart disease due to inactive lifestyles
• The appearance of type-two diabetes in children is increasing
Childhood Obesity – Physical Complications
• type-2 diabetes
• high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol
• liver disease, bone and joint problems
• respiratory problems such as asthma
• sleep disorders such as difficulty breathing while asleep (sleep apnea)
• earlier than normal puberty or menstruation
Childhood Obesity – Psychological Difficulties
Overweight or obese children:
• are more likely to be teased and bullied and are more likely to bully others
• may have poor self-esteem and may feel socially isolated
• may be at increased risk for depression
• may have high stress and anxiety
• may have behavior and/or learning problems as a result of psychological difficulties related to childhood obesity
So how do we combat this major problem? Two things are necessary: “Good nutrition” and physical activity. As there is so much to cover, now I will focus on the physical activity piece.
The benefits of physical activity have been proven in study after study, helping to reduce the risk of disease while improving mental and emotional health as well. Increasing physical activity has many benefits. Science has shown that when children increase their daily physical activity, they decrease their chances of developing many diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes and are generally healthier and happier. Being active daily can help children:
• Improve their health, fitness and grow stronger
• Do better in school – improved focus and concentration
• Feel happier
• Maintain a healthy body weight
• Improve their self-confidence and self-esteem
• Learn new skills
• Cope with stress
• Social interaction with friends
Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
So how much should kids do each day? It is recommended that children and adolescents do 60 minutes of physical activity each and every day. It may sound like a lot but chances are that your children are pretty close to this already. There are easy and enjoyable ways to get to these 60 minutes – ensure they are doing activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety. They should be doing three types of physical activity each at least 3 days per week:
1) Aerobic Activity – either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running.
2) Muscle Strengthening – such as gymnastics or push-ups
3) Bone Strengthening – such as jumping rope or running
So although the statistics are staggering, there is hope. We know what the problem is and have the knowledge to fix it. Now the task is to spread the word to all people. Share this blog post so that we can get this information to as many people in as many different communities as possible.