Children’s time spent on physical exercise throughout the day is decreasing as their lives change. Consequently, childhood obesity is becoming more widespread, and it is now one of the most common and serious disorders in children. Additionally, treating childhood obesity is challenging, and the most prevalent issue is a refusal to engage in obesity therapy. Among the most common ways to decrease the chances of childhood obesity are nutrition and an active lifestyle that can be aided by physical activity programs at school. Nevertheless, there are various opinions regarding this program, with some scientists agreeing with its positive influence and others negating this statement. Therefore, the question is, what is the impact of a physical activity program (I) on the prevalence of childhood obesity (O) in students (P) in comparison to no involvement (C) during a one-year period (T)?
According to the statistics provided by the researchers, physical inactivity causes five million deaths per year and is a significant risk factor for non-communicable illnesses (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). The World Health Organization states that 20% of the world’s teenage population is adequately fit (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Data proves that a lower level of activity is a major contributor to the increased prevalence of juvenile overweight problems. In 2016, it was reported that over 40 million children under the age of five were obese globally (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Childhood obesity was identified in more than 20% of children in Europe and approximately 18.5% of children in the U.S.A (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Generally, the frequency of obesity was higher in females than in males, with 20.1% and 18.6%, respectively.
Increased physical activity levels were linked to a wide variety of positive effects, ranging from improved lipid and glucose homeostasis to enhanced endothelial function. These positive consequences of activity have often happened independently of BMI alterations (Waters et al., 2019). A greater level of activity was associated with decreased risks of coronary heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and enhanced average lifespan (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Physical activity’s effect on fat mass (particularly belly fat) and insulin activity are linked to its impact on cardiovascular risk. Physical activity programs enhanced capillarization and glucose sensitivity in this way (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). The moderate intensity of activity helped to provide significant health advantages. Intense exercises were required to generate more positive health outcomes, with aerobic-based workouts promoting more immense health advantages.
Sustaining a high level of physical activity was also linked to plenty of other physical health advantages, such as improved body shape, heart rate, metabolism, muscular development, and bone density. An analysis of 22 studies indicated that patients with greater levels of physical activity had a decreased risk of all-cause death (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Physical activity has been shown to improve psychological well-being, intellectual abilities, and educational outcomes, including scores and mental health. As a result, it can be indicated that children who engaged in a physical activity program at school for a year yielded good results.
Conversely, it has been claimed that 2.5 hours of medium physical activity at school per week compared to no activity resulted in a 19% decrease in mortality risk, while seven hours per week resulted in a 24% decrease in mortality risk (Wyszyńska et al., 2020). Therefore, children who did not engage in physical activity programs experienced setbacks in overall physical and mental health. The results varied depending on children and their predispositions. However, it was possible to single out frequent consequences of inactivity.
Among the most common indicators of children who did not engage in the program were breathing difficulties and rapid fatigability. As a result of lack of exercise, many children lost muscle strength and endurance (Bülbül, 2020). Additionally, many representatives stated that their immune system worsened, and they were more prone to sicknesses. All of these symptoms of inactivity grow into chronic diseases. Consequently, children who remain inactive most of the time have higher risks of obesity, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
According to the studies, there is a need to counteract childhood obesity and encourage children to participate in school-based physical activity programs actively. Mild obesity before adolescence is connected with a considerably higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in early adulthood (Weihrauch-Blüher & Wiegand, 2018). While the symptoms that have been mentioned before might not be concerning now, the repercussions of childhood inactivity are dangerous and lead to a higher mortality rate.
Hence, a rising percentage of children and teenagers are becoming obese. The physical activity program is an essential element in the school curriculum to measure excess body weight control in children. Even though the causes of childhood obesity are complex, a decrease in energy expenditure is regarded as one of the most important driving forces of obesity and overweight. In children who did not receive any assistance and did not engage in physical activity programs, excess body weight remained consistent and tended only to grow. Contrary to these children, those who were actively involved in regular physical activity programs experienced an increase in health conditions, decreasing the risks of obesity.
Bülbül, S. (2020). Exercise in the treatment of childhood obesity. Turk Pediatri Ars., 55(1), 2-10.
Waters, E., de Silva‐Sanigorski, A., Burford, B. J., Brown, T., Campbell, K. J., Gao, Y.,… & Summerbell, C. D. (2019). Interventions for preventing obesity in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7(7).
Weihrauch-Blüher, S., & Wiegand, S. (2018). Risk factors and implications of childhood obesity. Current Obesity Reports, 7(4), 254-259.
Wyszyńska, J., Ring-Dimitriou, S., Thivel, D., Weghuber, D., Hadjipanayis, A., Grossman, Z.,… & Mazur, A. (2020). Physical activity in the prevention of childhood obesity: The position of the European Childhood Obesity Group and the European Academy of Pediatrics. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 8, 1-8