Friday, February 25, 2011

Up-date on South African Kids' Health

According to Discovery's Vitality programme, in 2007, the Healthy Active Kids SA Report Card showed that South African kids scored a C- for health. In 2010, a new report card was compiled to assess whether there had been a change in the state of kids’ health since then.
The research panel was expanded for the 2010 Report Card

For this report card, the panel was expanded to include important partners from the Health Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, several tertiary academic institutions, and health-related non-governmental organisations, along with the private sector. They examined the best and most recent peer-reviewed evidence concerning healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use in children and adolescents in South Africa. Here’s what was found…

Results from the 2010 Healthy Active Kids SA Report Card

Physical activity:

■There has been a decline in physical activity amongst youth. The 2007 report card showed that 45% of teens surveyed reported doing enough physical activity to be considered health-enhancing, this decreased to 43% in 2010
■Less than a third of youth reported doing any moderate activity, and nearly 42% did little or no physical activity weekly.
Overweight and obesity:

■There has been an increase in the number of overweight and obese children.
■The findings showed that there was an increase from 17% to 20% for being overweight, and 4% to 5% for obesity.
‘Screen time’:

■This has increased by 4%, with nearly 1 in 3 South African adolescents watching more than 3 hours of television daily. (Increased screen time is linked to overweight and obesity.)
Unhealthy eating:

■There has been no improvement in the score for unhealthy eating.
■A recent survey showed that nearly 30% of those interviewed consumed fast food between 2 and 3 times per week
■There is no indication that tuck-shop intake or food choices have changed in kids since 2007.
Smoking:

■Prevalence of smoking amongst adolescents has remained constant since the last report card
■Nearly 30% of teens surveyed reported having ever smoked, with 1 in 5 admitting to being current smokers. This is well above the global prevalence for children and youth.
At this stage, South African children’s overall mark for health remains at C-.

Improving the state of children’s health

Although these trends are concerning, studies like this have given us insight into the actions that need to be taken to improve the state of children’s health. They have also led to an increasing number of programmes that have been implemented to further children’s health promotion in South Africa.

One such programme is the Vitality Schools Programme, which aims to educate learners, teachers, parents and the wider community with regard to leading healthier, more active lifestyles.

It is ideal to set healthy lifestyle habits early on in life, so join the movement these initiatives have begun, and start improving kids’ health at home as well.

More information on the Vitality Schools Programme

For more information on the Vitality Schools Programme please visit www.vitalityschools.co.za
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