Are We Driving Our Kids To Unhealthy Habits?
Active Healthy Kids Canada Releases 2013 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth
TORONTO, May 21, 2013 /CNW/ - With a steady rise in the use of the car, and a strong decline in kids getting to and from school and after school activities on their own steam, we have to ask ourselves: are we driving our kids to unhealthy habits?
The 2013 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, released today, reports that many Canadian children and youth are driven to and from destinations, and assigns a "D" grade for Active Transportation. Active transportation - walking, biking, wheeling, in-line skating or skateboarding to get to and from places such as school, parks and shops - has long been known to be an important source of physical activity for children and youth 1,2,3,4 but has seen a rapid decline in the last generation. While 58 per cent of parents walked to school when they were kids, only 28 per cent of their children walk to school today. 5 In addition to this generational shift, 62 per cent of Canadian youth, aged five to 17, use only inactive modes of transportation to get to and from school. 6
"By driving our kids to and from their destinations, we may be robbing them of an important source of physical activity, and contributing to lifelong unhealthy habits," says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada. "Active transportation presents an easy, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to increase physical activity levels among children and youth, and its benefits are significant. In fact, if we encouraged our kids to walk for trips less than a kilometre, they could bank an additional 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity per trip!"Barriers, such as distance between home and school, as well as safety concerns, have forced our kids into the car and contributed to the decline in active transportation and overall physical activity levels. Today's fast paced world finds parents are more likely to drive their children to their end destination if they perceive that driving them saves time or is more convenient. 7 And while 66 per cent of Canadian adults agree or strongly agree that their neighbourhood is safe for children to walk to and from school, today's children are less likely to be allowed to walk or bike to neighbourhood destinations without adult supervision. 8 "Today's youth spend less time walking, and walk shorter distances, than their parents did as children," says Kelly Murumets, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. "With only five per cent of five to 17 year olds meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, it is important to find simple solutions to help increase their physical activity levels. By making small changes to the way we travel to destinations, we can have a big impact on the physical activity levels of our children. Not only will we help get them closer to achieving the recommended Guidelines, but we will also provide opportunities for social engagement with their peers." "Active transportation can easily be integrated into everyday life at little or no cost. Collective action needs to be taken - by parents and families, policymakers, and schools - to ensure that Canadian children and youth are reaping the benefits of active transportation," says Jennifer Cowie Bonne, CEO, Active Healthy Kids Canada. "Schools should consider implementation of safe walk-to-school travel plans and provide bike racks, and government strategies should ensure urban planning that supports safe communities for biking and walking." Among the 17 grades assigned in the Report Card, key grades include:
- "D" for Active Transportation
- "F" for Sedentary Behaviour
- "C" for Family Physical Activity
- An overall grade of "D-" for Physical Activity Levels
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