American and Scottish Children Found to Have Poor Physical Health

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According to two new reports, Scottish children are among the most inactive in the world and American children are scoring failing marks on fitness exams. Both have a similar cause for poor physical health: technology.

BBC News reported that a new study conducted by researchers at Strathclyde University found that Scottish children were among the least active in the world after examining the behavior of children from 15 countries. Specifically, they found that Scottish children spend more time playing video games than being active.

Similarly, Fox News reported that the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) Alliance issued the first U.S. report card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, finding that only 25% of children between the ages of six and 15 meet the current guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. The reasons for the majority of failing grades were the Internet, time-pressed parents, and the culture of the car.

The Strathclyde University study assessed children’s physical activity using the Global Matrix, which takes into account nine indicators: Overall physical activity; Organized sport participation; Active play; Active transportation; Sedentary behaviors; Family and peers; School; Community and built environment; and Government strategies and investments. Of these, Scotland received an “F” for overall physical activity and sedentary behavior.

In the NPAP Alliance report card, the researchers evaluated 10 key indicators, including the previously listed nine in the Strathclyde University study and one more called “health-related fitness.” “Organized sport participation” received a “C-” grade as did the “School” category, and the “Community and the built environment” received a “B-“. All of the other categories received either a D, F, or incomplete.

“Public schools don’t have funding to support athletic programs and both parents working don’t have the time to get kids to activities,” said Brian Sanders of i9 Sports, in this Fox News article. “Then there’s the increase in digital use. It all adds up.”

These evidence- and empirical-based reports illustrate how policy and the environment influence active behavior, which is obviously affecting the youth of the world in various aspects. Fifteen countries, including Scotland and the U.S., submitted their youth activity information to the Global Matrix, and the results will be presented in Toronto, Canada in the near future.

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