Paediatricians urge children and teens to get up and get moving

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ottawa—Physicians should counsel Canadian families to reduce children’s sedentary time, such as watching television or sitting with a computer, and increase their physical activity, says the Canadian Paediatric Society in a new position statement released today.

“We’re starting to see kids with health and obesity problems before they even start school,” said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, chair of the CPS Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee and co-author of the statement. “Parent and caregivers need to incorporate age-appropriate physical activity into their children’s day as young as possible.”Over the last 25 years, the rate of obesity has nearly tripled among children and youth. As many as 26 per cent of kids between two and 17 years are now overweight or obese, and that number jumps to 41 per cent among Aboriginal children. As children get older, they spend more and more time inactive: Youth six to 19 years are sedentary for almost nine waking hours every day.

The CPS recommends that children ages one to four have at least 180 minutes of daily physical activity at any intensity, including both structured and unstructured (free play) activities. Older children and adolescents should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity every day, including vigorous activities and muscle- and bone- strengthening activities at least three days a week.

These recommendations are consistent with the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years, released earlier today by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and ParticipACTION.

“It’s not just up to parents to promote healthy active lifestyles among children and youth,” said Dr. LeBlanc, a paediatrician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Society needs to make physical activity for children a priority because we all have a role to play, including health care teams, governments, schools, facilities and all levels of decision-makers.”

Among the CPS recommendations:

• Physicians should ask about physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and should help families find more ways to be active.
• Families should reduce the number of hours a day spent on sedentary activities and keep television sets, video games, cell phones and computers out of children’s bedrooms.
• Television networks should eliminate advertisements that promote unhealthy food and sedentary behaviour during children’s programming.
• Governments and communities should create more available and affordable sport and recreation programming after hours at schools and at local facilities.
• Schools should teach the benefits of physical activity and implement compulsory daily physical education for all grades.
• Communities should maintain safe recreational facilities, parks, playgrounds, bicycle paths, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.


To access the full position statement, visit: Healthy active living: Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents

Media inquiries:
Andrée Dion
Media Relations Coordinator
Canadian Paediatric Society
613-526-9397, ext. 247
[email protected]

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