MORE than 80 per cent of adolescents worldwide are not physically active enough thereby compromising their current and future health, a World Health Organisation study reveals.
It means that four in every five adolescents do not experience the enjoyment and social, physical, and mental health benefits of regular physical activity.
The report which was conducted by researchers from WHO, Imperial College London, and the University of Western Australia was published on The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health Journal on Friday.
It stated that the majority of adolescents aged between 11 and 17 years do not meet recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity every day, while girls were found less active than boys.
Based on data received from 1.6 million students in 298 schools across 146 countries, the study found out that 85 per cent of girls were not active enough, while boys were set at 78 per cent.
“The trend of girls being less active than boys is concerning,” said study co-author Leanne Riley, WHO.
“More opportunities to meet the needs and interests of girls are needed to attract and sustain their participation in physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood.”
There are health benefits of a physically active lifestyle during adolescence, WHO said.
“Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardiometabolic health, and positive effects on weight. There is also growing evidence that physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive development and socializing. Current evidence suggests that many of these benefits continue into adulthood,” the report outlined.
To improve levels of physical activity among adolescents, the study recommended multisectoral action to offer opportunities for young people to be active, involving education, urban planning, road safety and others.
It added that the highest levels of society, including national, city and local leaders, should promote the importance of physical activity for the health and well-being of all people, including adolescents.
WHO said the situation is serious and countries must act now for the health of the future young generations.
“Urgent policy action … is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” said study author Regina Guthold of WHO.