An innovative physical activities guide developed at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute FPG is helping North Carolina fight childhood obesity. New research shows that when teachers direct these physical activities, young children become more active and less sedentary.
“In the past twenty years, childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed,” said FPG investigator Allison De Marco. “And for the first time in over a century, children’s life expectancies are declining because of increased numbers of overweight kids.”
De Marco said these statistics are especially alarming because research has long shown that being overweight during childhood is associated with health issues later in life. Obesity, coupled with a lack of physical activity, can lead to coronary heart disease, hypertension, Type II diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
“About one-third of overweight preschoolers and one-half of overweight school-age children remain overweight as adults,” she explained.
She also noted that studies have shown how physical activities can reduce the chances of developing obesity and chronic diseases, while positively influencing other areas of development. Childhood physical activity is related to better health, higher test scores, and fewer behavioral problems.
“But preschoolers engage in mostly sedentary activities,” said De Marco. “Surprisingly, children don’t just run outside and play, and even at recess, preschoolers actually are fairly inactive.”
“Clearly, it’s important to get children up and keep them moving,” said FPG director Samuel L. Odom. He and his colleagues wanted to create a program that would include children even younger than the 3 to 5-year-olds that other physical activity programs had tried to target previously.
Source: FPG Child Development Institute