New Zealand & Mozambique Get Top Grades on Physical Activity Report Cards

Image via Active Health Kids Canada (Source)

Image via Active Health Kids Canada (Click to view full size)

Today is the first full day at the Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children, and it began with the unveiling of Physical Activity Report Cards from 15 different countries.  Canada has been releasing an annual Report Card on childhood physical activity for 10 years, but this year they were joined by countries ranging from England and the USA to Ghana and Kenya. Canada and the USA received overall grades of D- (not a big surprise who for those of us that have followed these things over the years), while New Zealand and Mozambique had the top grades (B for both countries).  In addition to overall physical activity, the report cards also looked at different key indicators for each country.

Interestingly, Canada scored relatively well on indicators related to school physical activity, family and peer support, and government policy and the built environment (I say relatively well because the grades were still typically low, but they were nonetheless in the top third of countries).  In other words, in Canada we seem to be doing a good job of putting the supports in place for kids to be active (or at least paying it lip service), but it’s not making much of a difference in terms of actual physical activity levels.  Below is a video of Joel Barnes, lead author of the Canadian Report Card, explaining their key findings for this year.

Below is another interview with Leila Pfaeffli Dale, co-author of the New Zealand Report Card. I did this interview in response to a question on twitter from Yoni Freedhoff, asking why New Zealand scores better than Canada.  I’m not sure if the answer will satisfy his curiosity – it seems to come down at least partly to cultural differences, and a very strong sport culture among Kiwi youths and Indigenous populations – but it’s interesting nonetheless.

I will be back with more on the conference tomorrow.  For live updates as they happen follow the hashtag #AHKCSummit on Twitter (you don’t need a Twitter account, just click on “this link).


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2 Responses to New Zealand & Mozambique Get Top Grades on Physical Activity Report Cards

  1. Krishna says:

    To me the more interesting observation is the fact that Mexico and Kenya are so high up in that list! This possibly be partly explained by the poor infrastructure in these countries, which almost forces these kids to be more physically active (like walking and biking everywhere). If I remember correctly, Mexico just recently became one of the world’s leading countries in terms of the number of cases (adults?) of obesity. This new study, which shows a high overall physical activity score in kids, may help them focus their attention to mid- to late-teens. The transition period to adulthood which might be where the community has gone off-track.

  2. Mac says:

    In response to Krishna (above) and several articles in the popular press I’ve read about this report, I don’t think we should imply that poor infrastructure correlates with increased physical activity, as there are other less affluent countries that scored lower in some of the categories (like Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa for sedentary behaviours).
    Canada’s score is indeed disturbing, but we have to consider that we live in one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with one of the coldest climates. Sending your 7 year old off to school in -20 weather for a 4km walk to school is just not something most parents would do (I’m afraid, myself included).
    In Kingston, the province is planning to close down KCVI and QECVI highschools and combine their populations to a single school. We just don’t have the population density to have a school within walking difference for all kids, even in a mid-sized city like Kingston.
    So we have our challenges, and I think people like Travis and Peter need to keep up the research, and hope that the message gets out to provincial policy makers who will make phys ed a bigger priority in schools, and maybe keep some of them open if it will allow kids to travel on foot or by bike.