Childhood Physical Inactivity and Obesity Prevention

By: Angela Corcoran, Head of Education, The Academy

Recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association indicate that rates of childhood overweight and obesity are dramatically on the rise reaching at or above 30 percent in 30 states. In fact on August 17, 2009 the U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD called it “the greatest threat to public health today killing more Americans than AIDS, all cancers and all accidents combined.”. The major cause of overweight and obesity is poor nutrition and physical inactivity. Government based health promotion groups are being formed (such as the AMA Working Group on Managing Childhood Obesity) to evaluate the barriers leading to childhood inactivity. Many studies suggest that there is a need for pediatric providers to address barriers to physical activity with families and act as advocates for changes in the local community that support access to physical activity for all children.

One of the barriers for pediatric providers is incorporating the exercise professional into a network of competent and knowledgeable preventive care providers. Linking the physician to the exercise professional that is capable of providing preventive care will be contingent upon the exercise professional’s ability to acquire the knowledge and skills to effectively provide physical activity to children. Exercise professionals interested in working with this group of individuals need to clearly understand the exercise guidelines for children and suggest effective training strategies. In order to establish exercise guidelines for children, one must first understand how children acquire new motor skills (learn to exercise) and the physiological differences between an adult and child.

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