Fighting Obesity and Increasing Physical Activity in Pre-School Children



In 2015, obesity is running rampant throughout not only the United States, but throughout the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and many other wealthier nations in the international community. At this stage we do not only see obesity in developed countries, but also in developing countries where poor nutrition is common and there is not access to healthy food.

Focusing on the United States, over two thirds of the population is overweight and there is a high prevalence of obesity in all age groups. Unfortunately, one of these age groups is the young children, as young as pre-school age.

The tendency towards obesity can develop at a very young age, even as young as pre-school age. If proper nutritional and exercise habits are not being incorporated at this age, then there is no framework to build upon as the child ages. Researchers in Seattle have recently discovered that pre-school age children do not get enough exercise as they should, with the average amount of time exercising per day is only 48 minutes. This is a critical period for health and wellness and children and if they are not begin guided by their educational leaders towards healthy behavior then trouble can come about down the road.

This is quite concerning. If adults are not exercising adequately, then how can we encourage pre-school children to do so? The educators in these pre-schools are doing a huge disservice to these children. This study found that in monitoring 10 schools for a period of 50 days, only 12% of the time was spent exercising or playing, while the students spent 29% of their time napping. It is understandable that children need to sleep in this stage of development, but there is a stark disparity when the children are spending more than double the amount of time sleeping than they are being active.

If we want to make a difference in childhood obesity and decrease the amount of pre-school age children that begin their lives with already negative health outcomes, the exercise framework needs to be significantly altered in these schools. 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Susana Fernandez

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