4 out of 5 adolescents around the globe aren’t active enough

  • Lancet Child Adolesc Health

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Most adolescents are not hitting guidelines-recommended thresholds for physical activity, according to this study of 1.6 million teenagers in 146 regions.
  • Girls are more inactive than boys.

Why this matters

  • Authors: the need is “urgent” for action at all levels to increase physical activity levels in this age group.

Key results

  • 81.0% (95% uncertainty interval, 77.8%-87.7%) of adolescents did not hit physical activity thresholds.
    • 77.6% (76.1%-80.4%) of adolescent boys did not.
    • 84.7% (83.0%-88.2%) of adolescent girls did not.
  • Boys showed some gains from 2001 to 2016 toward increasing the percentage reaching or passing the threshold, but girls did not.
  • Country income strata showed no obvious association with the percentages reaching the thresholds.
  • The Asia-Pacific region had the highest percentages of adolescents with insufficient physical activity.
  • High-income western countries had the highest percentages of boys with sufficient physical activity, whereas South Asian countries topped the list for girls who engage in sufficient activity.

Study design

  • Analysis of cross-sectional data from 298 school-based surveys in 146 areas, covering 1.6 million students aged 11-17 years.
  • Funding: WHO.

Limitations

  • Included only adolescents attending school.
  • Does not explain why physical activity levels are low or the differences between girls and boys.

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