Healthy settings for young people in Canada – Physical activity levels of young Canadians
Physical Activity Levels of Young Canadians
Figure 3.1 shows that between 56 and 64% of boys are physically active, while only 39 to 56% of girls are physically active. Physical activity in both boys and girls decreases from Grade 6 to Grade 10. These findings indicate that almost half of Grade 6 to 10 young people in Canada are physically inactive, with the problem being particularly worrisome in girls and older students.
It is encouraging, however, to note a positive trend in physical activity between the 2002 and 2006 HBSC surveys (Figure 3.2).
An average of 30% of boys and 22% of girls report participating in four or more hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activities in the past week during class time at school (Figure 3.3) and in their free time at school (Figure 3.4).
Figure 3.6 illustrates that more than 60% of young people across gender and grade categories report watching two or more hours of television per day. Grade 8 boys are the most excessive television watchers, peaking at 71%.
About one-half of boys and one-third of girls play video games for two hours or more per day on average (Figure 3.7).
The percentage of those using the computer in their free time for two or more hours per day is higher in girls than in boys (up to 60% and 56% respectively) and tends to increase with advancing grade (Figure 3.8).
For the purposes of this report, individuals who report consuming a given food item once per day or more often are considered to be frequent consumers. Compared to boys, a higher percentage of girls are frequent consumers of fruits and vegetables (Table 3.9), although fewer than half of all students surveyed indicate that they consume fruits or vegetables at least once a day. Approximately 50% of young people report drinking low-fat milk at least once per day and fewer than 20% report eating cheese at least once a day.
3.9 Students eating food item once per day or more often, by grade and gender (%)
|Food Item||Gender||Grade 6||Grade 7||Grade 8||Grade 9||Grade 10|
|Sweets (candy and chocolate)||Boys||14||16||22||22||24|
|Non-diet soft drinks||Boys||14||16||19||21||22|
|Cakes and pastries||Boys||5||5||5||5||7|
Canada’s Food Guide may be found at the following web address: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
Reported consumption of milk, cheese, fruits, and vegetables appears quite low, given that Canada’s Food Guide recommends that young people eat 3 to 4 servings of milk products and 6 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It should be noted, however, that food frequency and Canada’s Food Guide are not directly comparable, as the Food Guide is concerned with daily recommended quantities and food frequency measures the number of times a food is actually eaten with no consideration for how much is eaten.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is stable from the 2002 to the 2006 survey year (Figure 3.10).
It is encouraging that the percentage of frequent consumers of candy/chocolate and non-diet soft drinks is down, compared to the 2002 HBSC cycle.
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