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What role does physical activity play in childhood obesity?

Participating in physical activity is important for children and teens as it may have beneficial effects not only on body weight, but also on blood pressure and bone strength.

  • Physically active children are also more likely to remain physically active throughout adolescence and possibly into adulthood.

Children may be spending less time engaged in physical activity during school.

  • Daily participation in school physical education among adolescents dropped 14 percentage points over the last 13 years — from 42% in 1991 to 28% in 2003. In addition, less than one-third (28%) of high school students meet currently recommended levels of physical activity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens be physically active for at least 60 minutes on most, if not all, days.

  • For children, the 60 minutes of activity can be done in smaller chunks of time over the day.

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute "How Much Physical Activity Should Your Family Get?"; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Contributing Factors"