Early childhood is a critical period for growth and development, the authors explain. Parents, health care professionals, educators and caregivers (UK: carers) should work together to guarantee the foundation needed to sustain physical activity throughout life.
We should not assume that physical activity takes place naturally during early childhood and does not need to be investigated. The authors say that we need to know more about the link between physical activity and healthy early development.
What we do know about physical activity and lifestyle during those early years does not look good, the authors add:
- A mere 36% of 2-3 year olds and 44% of 4-5 year old regularly take part in unorganized sport and physical activity each week.
- Just 42% of preschoolers get 90 minutes of physical activity per day (according to a survey by Edmonton parents).
- 89% of children's time in childcare center settings is spent sitting down.
- Children started watching TV at the age of 4 years in 1971. Now they are 5 months old.
- Over 90% of Canadian children start watching TV before they are two years old. This is despite recommendations that TV watching should be kept to zero until the child is two.
- The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth estimates that 27% of 2 to 3 year-olds and 22% of 4 to 5 year-olds are sitting in front of the TB for over 2 hours each day.
- The incidence of overweight/obesity in children under the age of 6 years is rising in Canada. Two regions report obesity rates of between 8% to 11% among children aged 2 to 5 years. National Data (Canada) estimates that 6.3% of 2 to 5 year-old Canadians are obese, while 15.2% are overweight.
- A child who becomes obese before six years of age will probably be obese later on in his/her childhood.
- An obese child is significantly more likely to become an obese adult, compared to other children.
Source: Active Healthy Kids Canada