Active Healthy Kids Canada is a research group that was formed to promote physical fitness. They recently released its sixth annual report card after the group reviewed hundreds of data sets and studies related to physical activity of children and youth in Canada. The results are discouraging.
- Active Health Kids Canada reviewed data collected by the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY). This long-term study of Canadian children began in 1994 and follows their development and well-being from birth to early adulthood. According to NLSCY data less than half (36% children ages 2 - 3, 44% children ages 4 - 5) of Canadian kids under age five are getting regular physical activity as part of their daily routines.
- Only 12% of children and youth are getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity for their age group. The recommended amount of physical activity for children ages 1 - 5 is at least two hours a day. Children older than 5 should have 90 minutes of physical activity daily. Fifteen percent of children in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories were getting daily exercise while Ontario and the Yukon children tied for third place at 14%. Children in the Atlantic provinces tended to be less active. Only 7% of school-age children in New Brunswick and 9% in P.E.I. taking part in some sort of daily physical activity.
- driven to school - Canadian children are being driven to school rather than riding their bikes or walking
- too much screen time (Grade F). - Some children are spending up to six hours a day in front of television and computer screens. This time does not include homework but rather is strictly video games, TV, chatting with friends on line. In addition to the time spent in front of screens, about 90% of Canadian children begin watching TV before their second birthday in comparison to the average age of 4 forty years ago. It is currently recommended that children under age two get zero screen time.
- Canada's physical education programs (Grade C) - There are discrepancies between the amount of time mandated for phys-ed in schools and the amount actually allotted to it
- recreation facilities/programs, parks and playgrounds (Grade D) - Less than half of Canadian children and youth used the amenities available to them. No mention was made regarding whether Canadian families could afford to have their children use any of these amenities that are not free.
- federal government (Grade F) - The Canadian federal government spends half the amount it spent in 1986 on promoting physical fitness.