Monday, March 30, 2009

mandatory physical activity does not reduce child obesity. well with 20 minutes a day, i wouldn't be surprised.

I just read an article from (the Toronto Star online) about how physical activity in elementary schools does not reduce childhood obesity. Okay, I can understand where that's coming from because some children do not have the healthiest lunches nor enough time for physical activity. Believe me, I can relate.

In a nutshell, I'm not the greatest athlete. I like to work out and such but when I was in elementary school I didn't do a lot of physical play. My gym classes were 40 minutes long and in those forty minutes we got changed for 10, sat in attendance groups for 10, and played a sport (that I probably was really bad at) for the last 20 minutes. However, I had huge classes (meaning 30 students+ in some cases) so when alternating shifts or taking turns with equipement, each student probably only got 15 minutes max of physical activity time.

The article reports that it is mandatory to have 2o minutes of exercise a day in Ontario. In my elementary school, we never had gym everyday. Apparently, 150 minutes of exercise is suggested during a week in a Toronto grade school.  That's 30 minutes a day for a five day school week. 

Do we know which elementary schools truly follow these rules? No we don't.

Obviously, the onus isn't on schools only. Children should be active on a daily basis even when they're not at school. As cliched as it sounds, children should be spending time outside, riding their bikes, playing four square, and whatnot even when they're at home.

It was reported that BMI ratings did not decrease between school children compared to kids in a control group. 

Hmmm. Control group? Elementary school community? Are the two supposed to be the same? Elementary schools should have control over how much physical activity students receive per day/week. But, with regards to eating habits, is that a school priority? Yes, good eating patterns should be taught but students at that age eat what their parents give them and maybe sneak some snacks in before and after school without an adult's consent.

Eating and physical activity habits matter in the school environment just as much as on the home front. You've probably all heard this before, but having a healthy home environment sets a strong personal foundation for a child. 

Should the onus be put entirely on the school? The home? Should the two be working harder together to help obesity rates decrease?


If you want to read the article check out this link:


tash.gagnon said...

Your blog tackles exactly what we've been discussing in my Kine classes. Not only are schools not truthfully committing to the daily physical activity regime, but the truth is 20-30 minutes of physical activity won't contribute to immense results in decreasing the obesity pandemic. However, the whole point of the 20 minutes of exercise is to realize the importance of physical activity in their daily life. If they can learn at a young age to incorporate healthy activities in their daily lifestyles, they are more likely to pursue it throughout their childhood. Exposure to different sports on a more frequent basis, will lead them to improving their sports skills, and determining which they excel at. If they excel, they tend to grow to enjoy the sport, and consequently that forces them to want to join more teams/after school activities that foster that sport. So yes, I agree with you that simply doing 20 minutes of physical activity, won't get these kids into skinny jeans lol, but it will give them the opportunity to realize that daily physical activity should be no different then the need to brush your teeth, or wash your face everyday!

Leviana Coccia said...

Thanks for your comment Tash!

You raise a good point and I'm glad you added some more information to my post. I wrote it with you in the back of my mind, actually.

Obviously, physical activity is important. I like that you backed up your argument with the fact that exposure to different sports on a frequent basis will lead children to improve their skills and practice physical activity in the future.

Like you said, though, how do we know that schools are meeting the 20-30 minute requirement? Unfortunately we don't.

Hopefully, this will change because as you know especially physical activity is extremely important in a person's health, no matter what age they are.

tash.gagnon said...

No problem! I love this stuff so if you ever want a health topic to write about, I have tons to suggest!

After I commented I was still thinking about it, and you know what the saddest part is? A large percentage of Canadians, let alone children, have a BMI higher than 30, which classes them in the obese category. These people can probably only handle 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day according to their health status. So when you think about it, if we can actually instill this class action into all schools, it's more beneficial then we're led on to think!

Anyways, I could go on for hours with this stuff. But once again, thanks for the blog! I take good interest in reading things like this. Keep it up :)

Leviana Coccia said...

Very true.

For sure, I'd love to write about whatever topics you have. Just let me know and I can tackle them.