Teens at high risk as Canada fails for third consecutive year



    Active Healthy Kids Canada's Report Card on Physical Activity shows
    little improvement, deepening problems

    TORONTO, June 27 /CNW/ - Active Healthy Kids Canada today released its
2007 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, and with it
comes a warning that Canadian youth are at a crisis point. The annual Report
Card, which grades Canada at a 'D' for the third straight year, indicates that
physical activity levels have reached an all time low among Canadian teens,
and are declining among young people in general. The Report Card calls for
immediate action to empower youth to get active in ways that are meaningful to
them.
    The Report Card closely examines physical activity opportunities for
children and youth where they live, learn and play. In addition to
highlighting decreased rates of physical activity and increases in screen
time, the 2007 Report Card notes a troubling association between sedentary
behaviours and increased reports of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem
among adolescents.
    "Three straight years of poor grades should give all Canadians a major
wake up call, especially since we now know that children become less and less
active as they get older" says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chair, Active Healthy Kids
Canada. "The good news is that we can identify immediate areas for
improvement; we know that a majority of kids are sedentary during the
after-school hours, so this is a great time to encourage them to get moving."
    Despite growing awareness of the severity and consequences of childhood
inactivity, physical activity levels scored the lowest grade on the 2007
Report Card, dropping from a D to an F. This failing grade indicates a strong
need to establish and continually reinforce support for physical activity
opportunities throughout society.
    "The decline in physical activity among children and especially youth has
far-reaching implications on the future health of our country," says
Stephen Samis, director of health policy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation
of Canada. "After three consecutive years of D's, Canadian families,
communities, schools and governments need to act now to reverse this trend and
ensure that this generation isn't the first that will not live to the same age
as their parents."
    Progress on the recommendations set forth in the 2006 Report Card has
been encouraging, though somewhat limited. The federal government has
responded to the recommendation to increase public awareness for parents
through reviving programs like ParticipACTION, and adding physical activity
recommendations to Canada's new Food Guide. Alberta and Ontario have
specifically addressed the recommendation for increasing school-based physical
activity by introducing Daily Physical Activity policies, and Manitoba
announced mandatory Physical Education for Grades 11 and 12. Unfortunately,
the recommendation to reduce screen time has seen no improvement, with
children and youth still logging up to 6 hours per day of screen time.
    "It's good to see an increase in the amount of attention and profile that
all levels of government have given to this issue, but it's not enough." said
Dr. Tremblay. "As we gather more comprehensive information, we're seeing that
the problem is even worse than we thought - and it's no longer just risking
kids' physical health, it's compromising their emotional health as well."

    2007 Recommendations for Action
    -------------------------------
    The 2007 Report Card identifies three recommendations that build upon
those set forth in 2006.

    
    1.  Engage and empower youth - with physical activity levels at their
        lowest point ever among teens, we must work directly with youth to
        find activities that will motivate and engage them into
        participating.
    2.  Target the after school hours - research confirms that the six hour
        period after school is a danger zone. Parents, schools and
        communities need to work harder to provide options for meaningful,
        physical activity opportunities during these hours.
    3.  Continue to improve the research and measurement process - the more
        we refine our methods of assessing physical activity levels, the more
        accurate we can be about where we are and where we need to be.
    

    About the Report Card
    ---------------------
    Active Healthy Kids Canada has taken the lead in developing an annual
Report Card to provide an ongoing comprehensive assessment of how Canada is
collectively demonstrating its responsibility in providing physical activity
opportunities for children and youth. All three annual Report Cards gave
Canada a "D", and called upon leaders in the public and private sectors to
support families in helping their kids become more physically active.

    Active Healthy Kids Canada
    --------------------------
    Active Healthy Kids Canada was established as a charitable organization
in 1994 to advocate the importance of physical activity for children and youth
where they live, learn, and play. As a national leader in this area, Active
Healthy Kids Canada provides expertise and direction to decision-makers at all
levels, from policy-makers to parents, in order to increase the attention
given to, investment in, and effective implementation of physical activity
opportunities for all Canadian children and youth.

    To view the 2007 Report Card online, visit www.activehealthykids.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Will Lamont, Stephanie Hurley, Trillium
Corporate Communications Inc., (416) 322-3030 ext 241, 231,
will@trilliumpr.com, stephanie@trilliumpr.com; Shannon Boyd, Active Healthy
Kids Canada, O: (416) 426-7297, C: (416) 528-5494,
shannon@activehealthykids.ca

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Active Healthy Kids Canada

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