"The take-home message for parents is that it is very important to ensure that their children spend at least an hour a day in some form of appropriate physical activity," says Dr. William B. Strong, a pediatric cardiologist and retired professor at the Medical College of Georgia who co-chaired the panel.
"The important thing is we have to get American children and adolescents active," says co-chair Dr. Robert M. Malina, research professor and an expert in growth and development at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. "The evidence is very clear that physical activity has decreased dramatically in the last 10 to 20 years," Dr. Malina says as the technology revolution of the 1980s produced more sedentary options for children while their caloric intake has essentially remained the same.
"Our children are just not burning up those calories today," Dr. Malina says of the obesity epidemic in children. "All of us need to help children increase the amount of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity. This means that parents, coaches, teachers and others who influence youngsters need to become active role models and get children involved with regular participation in physical activity."
"Increasing the level of habitual moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity in youth is a health promotion and a disease prevention strategy," the panelists conclude. Restoration of physical education and other school- and community-based programs could contribute mightily to that strategy, they say.
Recommendations of the 13-member panel are published in the June issue of The Journal of Pediatrics. Panelists were convened by the Constella Group, Inc., a professional health services company headquartered in Durham, N.C., contracted by the Divisions of Nutrition and Physical Activ
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia