Girls and physical activity
By Jeanette Fich Jespersen, KOMPAN Play Institute,
Obesity and overweight figures of European children and teenagers show a sinister increase during the last decades. In Europe 25% of the children are estimated to be overweight or obese. And this number is estimated to grow by 400.000 persons a year.
Nutrition is definitely a factor behind the growing number of overweight children. But inactivity and a general lack of movement due to automation, city planning based on traffic and a steep increase in PC use and television consumption is acknowledge to carry its part of the blame.
All surveys on children’s activity show a decrease in activity from 9 years and onwards. The girls are clearly not as active as the boys. In a 2002 school children survey from the Danish Institute of Public Health, the group of children having hard physical activity at least four times a week.
The girls are remarkably less active than the boys. And this is not solely a Danish phenomenon. In England, too, the Child Trend Databank shows, that only 64% of the 13-14yearold girls are physically active the WHO recommended 60 minutes a day. And there is a striking decline in activity, stating that only 46% of the 17-18yearold girls meet recommendations.
In physical leisure activities girls are under represented, too. Italian research shows, that less than 50% of the 13-17yearold girls participate in physical activity in their spare time.
The physical activity levels are also based in socio-economic features: children from low-income families are generally less active. Girls with immigrant backgrounds are remarkably less active than other girls.
The lack of movement in girls, and teenagers generally, emphasizes the need for action now in our societies, as the lack of movement might very well be connected to the lack of attractive places of their own, that offer activity as well as meeting with other teenagers, in a design that appeals to them.
KOMPAN provides award winning playground equipment including swing sets, slides, rope nets and playhouses that suit all ages and abilities.
12 Kingtel Place, Geebung, QLD, Australia, 4067
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