Researchers Say Future Is Scary for Inactive Kids
By Sandy Schroeder
As a kid, I was never still. I was on a bike or running around every day. Johns Hopkins University researchers say today’s kids are entirely different.
Two-thirds of the children in the United States seldom exercise at all. Overall activity levels off at about age 7 for girls and boys in the U.S. and Europe, according to reports from the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Most of us may still picture kids playing soccer or football, and zooming around on their bikes. But the figures today indicate most kids may be hunched over phones, tablets or video games much of the time.
Tracking the Future
Researchers developed a computer model to predict what might happen to these kids when they become adults.
If they remain inactive they may have to deal with obesity, cardiovascular risks, type 2 diabetes and other serious diseases. If they become more active, $120 billion in yearly healthcare expenses could be saved.
Of course, new medical developments or other unknown variables could change these projections, which are based on the effect inactivity has on health.
America’s 31.7 million children, ages 8 to 11, were studied for health, weight and activity levels with data drawn from the Census Bureau and other databases. Individual profiles were created for each child. Two-thirds of the children were inactive. Many were overweight. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and obesity risks were projected along with hospitalizations and drugs.
Major Expenses Predicted
Three trillion dollars in annual cost was projected if these kids remained inactive, and often overweight, for the rest of their lives.
Then the researchers played with the numbers to see what increased activity could do. If half of all of the children exercised 25 minutes, three times a week, obesity rates would drop and costs would be reduced by $32 billion annually.
If all of these children exercised an hour a day, costs would drop $120 billion. The Johns Hopkins’ researchers emphasized the cost to these children in personal health, and to society in medical costs, if most of them remain inactive.
As a society preoccupied with electronics, parents and children move much less. The blue light of electronics blinks steadily morning through night.
We may all have to find ways to have our electronics and remain active, too. Perhaps, individuals could electronically chart weight, age, and activity to see where they might be headed. Or more new electronic devices may inspire us to get moving and stay moving. Future studies are likely to track these kids into their teens, reminding us again of the consequences.
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