Sport plays vital role in tackling childhood obesity
It is widely accepted that childhood obesity is becoming an increasingly serious issue across the globe and one that has serious consequences for our health levels now and well into the future. The increased reliance on convenience food and snacks with high sugar levels is contributing to the problem. This high-energy dense food consumption combined with the fact that there is less opportunity to spend energy due to our motorized transport habits and less opportunity for active play-time results in higher rates of obesity.
It is clearly one of the big health challenges facing the modern world and is undoubtedly something that has to be tackled in the immediate future. Among the approaches being recommended to deal with the problem are, better example from parents, proper nutrition and more active play-time. However, as is often the case, it could be that one of the best solutions may in fact be the most obvious, with exercise being highlighted as one of the key areas that can battle childhood obesity. Studies have found that not only is exercise a huge factor in dealing with childhood obesity, but the success rate soars when that exercise comes in the form of organized sport and with a variety of disciplines.
Related Health Issues
In order to deal with the topic we must understand the terminology involved and the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention tells us that ‘overweight’ refers to having excess body weight for a particular height. Meanwhile ‘obesity’ is defined as having excess body fat.
Body mass index (BMI) is generally used to determine fatness based on growth charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The scale problem becomes clear with the revelation by Fred Fornicola that nearly one third of children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 are either overweight or obese.
“It would be a gross understatement to say that childhood obesity has become a serious problem in America over the last several years. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated childhood obesity is the fastest growing health crisis in the United States. Over the past thirty years, the rate of obesity has more than tripled for children aged 6 to 11 and more than doubled for adolescents aged 12 to 19. It’s been approximated that more than 33% of youths aged 2 to 19 (that’s more than 25 million kids) are overweight or obese”
revealed Fred Fornicola in the article 5 Ways You Can Prevent Childhood Obesity.
Related Health Problems
As a result of being overweight, the physical and psychological health of a young person is affected, and it is now accepted that childhood obesity is resulting in health issues that were previously only prevalent in adults. There is an increased chance of developing conditions such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as a result of childhood obesity.
In addition, kids who are overweight/obese have a poor self-image, low self-esteem, and a tendency to withdraw from others. They experience increased loneliness, sadness, nervousness, and depression.
Play More Sport
In light of such findings, it is clearly of immense importance that this issue is dealt with at an early age and the study by Keith M. Drake, of the Hood Center for Children and Families at Dartmouth in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues in Pediatrics indicates that one of the best ways forward is to encourage children to take part in more organized sports.
Put simply, the study tells us that teens who play on three or more sports teams are up to 39% less likely to be obese.
“Adolescents who played on three sports teams or more in the last year were 27% less likely to be overweight/obese and 39% less likely to be obese compared with adolescents who did not play on any sports teams”
write the researchers (Team sports seen as key factor in preventing childhood obesity).
A similar study by the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Canada examined the relation among children’s physical activity, and provided evidence supporting the link between physical inactivity and obesity of Canadian children.
From analyzing the results of these studies, the researches estimate that obesity rates among teenagers would drop by 26 per cent if they all played on at least two sports teams each year. They say participation in high school sports reduces the risk of childhood obesity because it involves regular practices and competitions that require moderate to strenuous activity levels.
Preventing Future Problems
Such studies provide strong evidence to suggest that young people must be encouraged to take up team sports and as Keith M Drake points out:
“Team sport participation had the strongest and most consistent inverse association with weight status. Obesity prevention programs should consider strategies to increase team sport participation among all students.”
A large part of the responsibility for encouraging increased levels of activities lies with parents and the school system to ensure that childhood obesity is tackled. The vast majority of overweight kids ultimately become overweight or obese adults, putting increased pressure on the health system. Of course, the problem may never be totally eradicated but it is essential that a concentrated effort is made to control this growing problem.
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