5 important facts about the health and wellbeing of our youth

  1. We’re not meeting Canadian physical activity guidelines – and we know we can do better
  • Heard the latest catchphrase “sitting is the new smoking”? What this really means is that physical inactivity is linked to serious health problems like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and even our mental health

  • Take a look at this interview from kinesiology and physical education professor Greg Wells to learn more about the research and the dangers of sedentary behaviour. Canadian sedentary behaviour guidelines provide recommendations for children and youth to limit sedentary behaviour and include more physical activity. Just like adults, youth report obstacles to getting enough physical activity. Let’s help make regular physical activity easily accessible, fun and affordable for everyone – here are some tips from the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Physical activity tends to decline as kids age. In Halton, our youth survey results show that 66% of Grade 7 students report that they were physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. That drops to 50% for Grade 10 students (HYS, 2012/13)

 

physical activity_2

 

  1. Obesity rates worldwide have nearly doubled since 1980 (WHO, 2014)
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for disease. And obesity is preventable
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has put together this fact sheet about obesity. In Halton, one way we monitor healthy weights is with our youth survey. Our rates for overweight and obesity in youth have been relatively stable since 2006 (1 in 5 youth is overweight or obese; HYS, 2012/13). We would like to see these on the decline, and there’s more to be done. Here’s a map from the OKN Data Portal that shows the percentage of 12-year olds overweight or obese by neighbourhood

 

  1. We can do more to make equal access to nutritious food a reality
  • High-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense foods tend to be lower in cost but also lower in nutrient quality (WHO, 2014)
  • Healthy eating should be a right not a privilege. Talking about food security is important, and youth can help generate ideas and policies to make it happen. To learn more about food security in Halton, see this report from Halton Region’s health department

 

  1. Making time to eat together as a family can be a challenge, but has important benefits for children and youth
  • Busy schedules, organized sports and picky eaters can make family meals feel impossible. Family meal time doesn’t have to be dinner – breakfast works too. It’s about creating a time to come together and check-in. For more information, take a look at this useful summary of the research on family meals and read their recommendations
  • In Halton, our research shows that eating together as a family drops from 82% in Kindergarten, to 64% in Grade 7 and 53% in Grade 10 (HYPS, 2013). Explore the data by neighbourhood and see this Halton map of the percentage of parents of 5 year olds who report having a family meal at least once a day

 

eating together

 

  1. Positive body image means a lot
  • Body image is closely tied to self-esteem. Negative self-talk and pressure from others can undermine youth mental health – especially for girls. In Halton, results from our youth survey show that self-esteem in girls drops from 82% in Grade 7 to just 61% in Grade 10. This decrease is much more pronounced than it is for boys (84% in Grade 7 vs. 80% in Grade 10; HYS, 2012/13).
  • Eating well, getting exercise and supportive relationships to talk through ‘what’s normal’ can help teens build self-esteem

 

self-esteem

Leave a Reply