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The Grades Are In - Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Active Healthy Kids Canada just released their 2014 Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth: Is Canada in the Running? This is the 10th year anniversary of this comprehensive annual assessment, and the first year to reveal how Canada stacks up against 14 other countries.

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This report looks at a total of 10 indicators to assess physical activity, all of which fall within the categories of: behaviors that contribute to overall physical activity, settings and sources of influence, and strategies and investments. Grades are then assigned to each indicator based on examination of current data against a benchmark, assessment of trends over time, and the presence of disparities (disparities were primarily based on disabilities, race/ethnicity, immigration status, geography, socioeconomic status, urban/rural setting, gender and age). While the data on disparities is not shown in the summary report, there is a section on disparities for each indicator that can be seen in the full report. Unfortunately, there are not too many differences in how Canada has scored on this report card throughout the last 10 years.

Some key findings include:

  • Even though Canada is among the leaders in sophisticated polices, places and programs (B+ in Community and The Built Environment, C+ in Schools, and a C+ in organized sport participation), Canada is clustered near the back of the pack with a score of D- for Overall Physical Activity Levels!

    • 95% of parents report local availability of parks and outdoor spaces, and 94% report local availability of public facilities and programs for physical activity

    • There is a physical education curriculum in place at schools in every province and territory, and most students have regular access to a gymnasium (95%), playing fields (91%) and areas with playground equipment (73%) during schools hours

    • 75% of Canadian kids aged 5-19 participate in organized physical activities or sport

    • While 84% of Canadian kids aged 3-4 are active enough to meet Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines, this falls to only 7% of kids meeting guidelines at ages 5-11, and 4% at ages 12-17
  • Canada lags behind most of the international groups in Active Transportation (D) and Sedentary Behaviours (F)

    • 62% of Canadian parents say their kids aged 5-17 years are always driven to and from school (by car, bus, transit, etc.)

    • Canadian kids aged 3-4 spend 5.8 hours a day being sedentary, those aged 5-11 spend 7.6 hours and those aged 12-17 spend 9.3 hours.

This report asks an important question – if our policies and programs are well developed, why is this not translating into enough activity for our kids?

This report suggests that we have a culture of convenience here in Canada, which affects our likelihood to use active transportation to get to school. We value efficiency – doing more in less time – which may be at direct odds with promoting children's health. This report also suggests that we are over structuring our kids and perhaps being too cautious, which may be actually leading to less physical activity. In New Zealand, which leads the pack with a B in Overall Physical Activity and a B in Active Play, 4 elementary schools banned all safety-based playground rules and students not only became more active, but administrators reported an immediate drop in bullying, vandalism and injuries.

What are your thoughts?!
Please use our blog to comment on the question they pose - if our policies and programs are well developed, why is this not translating into enough activity for our kids?

Click here for the full report
Click here for the short report (summary)
Click here for communication tools to help in the dissemination of the report



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