Health Care

More than 80% adolescents worldwide not physically active

More than 80% adolescents worldwide not physically active”

According to the study, the Philippines had the highest inactivity levels among boys, at 93 per cent, while in South Korea, researchers found that 97 per cent of girls failed to do enough exercise.

The study, "Global trends in insufficient physical activity among adolescents", used available data sets from 146 countries to analyze how many children are not meeting recommendations for physical activity.

"Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls' participation in physical activity", study author Regina Guthold said in a journal news release.

"More opportunities to meet the needs and interests of girls are needed to attract and sustain their participation in physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood", Riley added. These improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardiometabolic health, and positive effects on weight.

It also highlighted recent evidence which suggests that physical activity also has a positive impact on cognitive development and socialising.

They also flagged that as it included information from school-going 11 to 17-year-olds only, due to lack of data for out-of-school adolescents which may skew the results for some developing countries.

The WHO is urging policymakers globally to act now, and introduce policies and legislation aimed at increasing physical activity.

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The United States had one of the biggest gaps between girls and boys, with over 80% of girls surveyed failing to engage in sufficient physical activity, compared to 64% of boys.

"Differences in prevalence of insufficient physical activity between boys and girls, and the widening gaps over time were particularly apparent in some high-income countries, such as Singapore, the United States of America, and Ireland", the report said.

The authors noted that if these trends continue, the global target of a 15 per cent relative reduction in insufficient physical activity - which would lead to a global prevalence of less than 70 per cent by 2030 - will not be achieved.

According to the study, physical activity trends show slight improvement for boys, none for girls. In India and Bangladesh especially, major focus is given on sports and hence, the percentage is better in these countries.

Philippines ranks nearly last when it comes to physical activity among teenagers, India, along with Bangladesh and the U.S., has lowest levels of insufficient activity in boys. This means young people spend more time on phones, tablets and other screens instead of outdoor activities and exercising.

The WHO study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, said many sports in the United States seem created to attract boys more than girls.

The World Health Organization launched an initiative to increase physical activity in 2018 called "More Active People for a Healthier World".

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