Children’s fitness gets a report card you couldn’t bring home
If you ever received a report card like the one issued on the physical activity of U.S. youngsters last week, you simply wouldn’t bring it home. You’d throw it away, bury it somewhere, stick it in a drawer and hope your parents forgot that they hadn’t seen any grades for a while. When four “incompletes” are the best you can point to, it’s time to get ready for summer school.
Specifically, the assessment of kids’ physical activity included a B-, two C- grades, a D, a D-, an F and those four incompletes. Aside from the head-scratcher of deciding there wasn’t enough information to grade 40 percent of the categories their own committee developed, the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance and the American College of Sports Medicine delivered another well-researched critique of how little exercise our children get and why.
Some of the lowlights: A D- in “overall physical activity,” noting that just 24.8 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day; a D in “sedentary behaviors,” because kids ages 6 to 19 spend 424 waking minutes each day on their rear ends; an F in “active transportation,” which measured the proportion of kids who walk or bike to school (12.7 percent); and a C- in the share of kids who attend at least one physical education class each week (51.8 percent).
The panel decided it didn’t have enough information to assess how well the federal government, families and peers support physical activity, or the proportion of children who participate in daily, unstructured active play, among its other incompletes.
“We hope the report card will galvanize researchers, health professionals, community members and policy makers across the U.S. to improve our children’s physical activity opportunities, which will improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life,” said Peter Katzmarzyk, chairman of the 2014 report card research advisory committee.