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American Youths Score Poor Grades in Health Report
May 4, 2014

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The grade is a worrying one, as far as American children's physical activity goes, according to a report card issued by a group of medical professionals.

The National Physical Activity Plan group, in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine, issued yet another wake-up call for American youths in the form of poor grades on the U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Children aged 6 to 15 are to get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, as part of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, as set out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By the criteria of the group issuing the report card, a grade of "F" corresponds to fewer than 20 percent of American children getting the support they need to lead healthy lives, in particular succeeding in avoiding sedentary behaviors. A "D" grade corresponds to between 21 and 40 percent meeting those criteria. "C" grade would be 41 to 60 percent; "B" grade would be 61 to 80 percent; and anything over 81 percent would be an "A" grade.

The author of the study looked extensively at 10 indicators of physical activity:

  • sedentary behaviors
  • active transportation
  • participation in organized sports
  • active play
  • health-related fitness
  • school environment
  • family and peers environment
  • community environment
  • government strategies and investments
  • overall physical activity.

The group issued no "A" grades. In fact, the highest grade was a "B-minus," for community environment. School environment and organized sport participation scored slightly lower, at "C-minus."

Of particular concern were sedentary behaviors, at "D"; active transportation, at "F"; and overall physical actitivy, at "D-minus."

The other indicators were listed as incomplete, with not enough data present to make an accurate determination.

The study found that only 8 percent of youths aged 12 to 15 got more than an hour a day of moderate physical activity, and this resulted in a grade of "D-minus" in sedentary behavior. The study cited in particular that 54 percent of youths in this age group spent more than two hours every day sitting in front of a computer or a television but not using either for meeting educational needs.

The "F" grade for active transportation was for the finding that only 13 percent of children walked or biked to school and to related activities.

Among the members of the National Physical Activity Plan group are members of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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