America’s Youth Are Increasingly Out-of-Shape

Young American consumers, those between the ages of 12-18, are becoming increaseingly out of shape with each passing year. A new study by the CDC has found that the majority of children ages 12-18 do not receive the recommended amount of physical activity each day. This is quite troubling especially as the amount of recommended physical activity a day is only one hour. The study found that instead of spending an hour outside, teenagers are more likely to spend their time in front of a screen, during which point they are not physically active. This lead researchers to look at a new dimension of health, overall cardiorespiratory fitness. According to the New York Times:

The researchers had their subjects jog on a treadmill to determine cardiorespiratory fitness. Similar treadmill testing had been completed with smaller groups of young people in past years.

Then the researchers compared their volunteers’ fitness to what it should be, based on age-specific benchmarks developed recently by the C.D.C. and other institutions that researchers called the “healthy fitness zone.”

Few of the young people qualified to be in that zone. Over all, only 42 percent were as fit as they should have been, given their age, and that percentage fell precipitously among girls. Less than 34 percent of the female participants had fitness levels that would set them within the healthy fitness zone, the testing showed, compared with about 50 percent of boys.

Ethnicity and family income played no discernible role in the volunteers’ fitness, according to the data. Those from affluent families were as likely to be out of shape as those from families below the poverty line.

These results are quite concerning. The fact that a majority of children are not within the acceptable fitness range can be seen as an indicator of the overall health of children in America, especially as fitness levels are a strong indicator of life-long health.

In order to help reverse this trend, it is recommended that children attempt to participate in at least one hour of physical activity a day. Also, as some doctors agree that inactivity is a family issue, it is recommended that consumers with children also try to make themselves more active. This will not only encourage children to be more active, but it will also provide health benefits to older consumers as well. Doing so will help to improve fitness. This means that consumers will be able to spend more money on what they want, rather than potentially have to spend it on the high medical costs that are associated with poor fitness and health.

Read More-“This is Our Youth” (Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times)

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A rising senior at Colgate University, John is currently working as a research fellow with Consumers' Research.

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