What will it take to shake us out of our destructive behaviour?
For years we’ve been hearing and reading and about the obesity epidemic that advances further and further into our population every year.
We know that not only are Canadian adults getting fatter and suffering from the chronic illnesses that come along with that, but so are Canadian children.
That includes things like type 2 diabetes and heart conditions. In kids.
We know why: we don’t eat very well and we don’t get enough exercise.
And while it’s easy to sympathize with all of the reasons why this is so — we’re busy, stressed, not enough hours in the day, tired, good food is expensive and cooking takes time — we need to do better. Because we want our next generation to be healthier, not sicker.
A new ParticipAction study released Wednesday does not show us to be going in the right direction when it comes to getting our children active.
A June study gave Canadian kids a D- for their level of physical activity, with an estimated nine per cent of children ages five to 17 getting the recommended minimum of one hour of physical activity per day.
Less than 10 per cent. Yikes.
And now this new study tells us that Canadian children might be some of the least active in the entire world.
Interestingly, developed countries like Canada, Australia, England, Spain and the United States scored worse than many less developed nations. And we’re the ones who have so much money to build recreation facilities and the like.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Tremblay says there’s really no great excuse as to why Canada is doing so poorly, other than that we simply choose not to do better.
We’ve got to change the norm. Today, Canadian kids sit, then sit some more.
They watch television and play video games in their leisure time, rather than running around outdoors as previous generations did as a matter of course.
It’s an easy and addictive pattern to fall into. It doesn’t help that many parents have been scared into thinking that something terrible will happen if they tell the kids to go outside and play, relatively unsupervised.
We’ve got to change our choices. The consequences are long-term, and too severe if we do not.
And if we improve our health alongside our children, it’s a win-win.