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'Health and fitness levels of school children is dropping'

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The fitness and body mass index (BMI) levels of school children in India -- regardless of age, gender, region or city -- continued to be far from satisfactory, according to the 7th Annual School Health and Fitness Study 2016 by EduSports.

The study revealed that every third child has an unhealthy BMI, and only schools with more than three sessions of physical education had fitter children.

The nationwide study covered 1,69,932 children in the age group of 7 to 17 in 326 schools across 86 cities in 26 states. It assessed fitness parameters, like sprint capacity, flexibility, lower and upper body strength, abdominal strength and BMI.

The comparative study found that 69 per cent girls have a healthy BMI compared to 62 per cent boys. At least 51 per cent girls had desired levels of flexibility against only 45 per cent among boys.

However, boys showed stronger lower body strength than girls, while both tied scores in other fitness tests measuring abdominal strength, sprint capacity and upper body strength.

The fitness levels of children in metro and non-metro cities were similar. Only 66 per cent children in metros had a healthy BMI against 65 per cent in non-metros. The percentage of children with unhealthy BMI has increased from 20 per cent last year to 33 per cent this year. This trend needs to be reversed to have a healthy generation of children, it said.

A third of children in all five regions have unhealthy BMI scores: 37 per cent in Central, 36 per cent in East, 39 per cent in North, 37 per cent in South and 34 per cent in West. The weighted scores for these regions across all fitness parameters do not vary a lot. This reinforces the view that children across the country show lack of fitness.

The study revealed that schools with a sustainable, structured sports and physical education sessions have improved children's fitness.

According to Saumil Majmudar, CEO of EduSports, "Children are becoming less active for environmental or interpersonal reasons. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of obesity and health-related problems in adolescence, and adulthood. We believe that schools provide the ideal environment to promote physical activity at the right age and improve fitness standards among children."

The study showed that schools with a structured, age-appropriate sports programme witnessed a substantial improvement in health and fitness levels, compared to schools which don't have a structured sports programme. Research also showed that active children have greater attention spans and perform better academically, Majmudar said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 23 2017. 16:42 IST