The Nation’s Least Active High Schoolers: How To Get Mass. Kids Moving More

playground

(geograph.org.uk)

Massachusetts tends to do well compared to other states on measures of obesity and activity — but not that well. Particularly our high school students: They score worst in the nation on getting the recommended daily hour of physical activity.

Children’s exercise levels are the topic of discussion today at a Massachusetts Health Policy Forum hosted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and The Boston Foundation. It’s titled “Overweight and Obesity in Massachusetts: A Focus on Physical Activity,” and aims to address the need to coordinate state, local and school efforts to increase kids’ activity levels. From the briefing paper released today by the Mass. Health Policy Forum:

Overall, Massachusetts ranks 33rd for the percentage of children who are obese and ranks dead last with the lowest percentage of high school students who meet the recommendation for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily.

Among Massachusetts high school students:

  • 67% of students were not regularly physically active and fare worse than the national average.
  • Only 17% of students were physically active daily.
  • 82% did not attend physical education classes daily and fare worse than the national average.
  • Over 23% of children reported not being physically active for 60 minutes on any day.
  • 30% of students reported watching television for 3 or more hours per day on school days.

What is to be done? Clearly that’s a topic worth many hours of discussion, but the brief also includes this useful chart of what other states have been doing:

What other states do to increase kids' physical activity

Source: Overweight and Obesity in Massachusetts: A Focus on Physical Activity Costs, Consequences and Opportunities for Change. Paper prepared by: Jennifer Sacheck, PhD and Amy Glynn, MPP/MBA candidate

See the full briefing paper here.

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