Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Filipino adolescents were found to be the second most inactive compared to their foreign counterparts by the World Health Organization, attributing the frequent use of mobile phones, the lack of public green spaces, and poor urban and transport planning to the physical inactivity of an entire generation.
Of the 1.6 million teens in 146 countries surveyed, the Philippines had an overall “physical inactivity prevalence” of 93.4 percent. South Korean youth topped the list with an overall rate of 94.2 percent. Compared to males of their age group in other countries, Filipino boys were the most inactive globally at 92.8 percent and our girls ranked second at 94.1 percent.
The first global study on physical inactivity found that 81 percent of teens aged 11 to 17 in 2016 were “insufficiently physically active.” These teens did not meet the WHO recommended minimum 60 minutes of physical activity of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, which includes walking, biking, or attending physical education classes.
According to lead author Dr. Regina Guthold, while mobile phone use is a factor that explains why teens spend less time playing outdoors, there are other reasons behind their high physical inactivity rate. She noted that in some countries, there is a dearth of public spaces, especially in big cities, where teens can be active. Additionally, there are not enough sidewalks where teens can safely walk or bike in going to school.
Guthold called for improvements in the education sector – to integrate physical activity in classes, the transport sector and urban planning to create spaces safe for physical activity. She noted that addressing these issues have the added benefit of reducing pollution.
It is easy to blame mobile phones and electronic devices for the rise in physical inactivity among the world’s youth, but the cities and societies they are growing up in are not blameless. Our leaders need to build communities and upgrade transport systems that encourage walking, as well as provide safe and green public spaces for everyone, young and old, to enjoy physical activities in. Until that is done, we cannot simply blame technology for the rise in physical inactivity and resulting decline in health of succeeding generations.*