Physical Activity
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​Over half of Canadian children and youth are not active enough for optimal growth and development. The rapid increase in overweight and obesity, combined with low levels of physical activity are seriously threatening the physical and psychological development of children and youth. The medical profession is seeing an increase in high blood pressure and what used to be considered adult onset diabetes in severely overweight children (Health Canada).

The solution: get active.

For more information, contact your local health unit.

What are the health effects of obesity?

Childhood obesity may result in medical problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol
  • Liver disease
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Asthma
  • Sleep disorders (sleep apnea)
  • Earlier than normal puberty or menstruation
  • Metabolic syndrome: a number of conditions associated with high blood insulin levels

What are the psychological effects of obesity?

Overweight/obese children are more likely to be:

  • Teased and bullied
  • More likely to bully others
  • Have poor self esteem
  • May feel socially isolated
  • Increased risk for depression
  • May have poorer social skills

Children who are overweight/obese in early childhood are more likely to be overweight/obese in adulthood and have an increased risk of: high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, heart disease, liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Although not eating well and not being active enough are two causes of obesity, there are many complex factors that contribute to the rising rates of overweight and obesity at the individual, family or society level. This problem calls for action and strategies by all levels of government, non-government agencies, public and families to make the healthy choice about diet and physical activity the easy choice for a child.

Part of that strategy is to change sedentary behaviours and engage children aged 5 -11 years in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. Moderate intensity are activities such as bike riding or playground activities. Examples of vigorous intensity activities include running and swimming. Changing behaviours includes creating supportive environments where children can live, learn and play that are more supportive of physical activity and healthy eating. Creating supportive environments aligns with the Healthy Families BC Schools provincial initiative which supports the Comprehensive School Health model – an internationally recognized approach for supporting improvements in student’s educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated and holistic way. Comprehensive School Health is an evidence-based, ‘whole school’ approach that addresses school health via four distinct but inter-related pillars: teaching and learning, social and physical environment, healthy school policy, partnerships and services.

Examples of supportive physical environments are:

  • Supporting more physically active modes of transportation and better access to recreational opportunities such as:
    • School travel plans that allow children to walk/bike safely to and from school by identification of safe routes.
    • Easy access to parks and green spaces.
  • Support for increasing the availability and accessibility of nutritious foods.
  • Support for decreasing the availability and accessibility of food and drink that are high in in fat, sugar and sodium.

These are just a few examples of strategies and policies that can be implemented.

Other resources

 

MoH     PCQO