Sports: Play younger, play longer

August 23, 2010

The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity is working to create state programs to help curb the ever growing rate of obesity. According to, obesity has become the most widespread medical problem affecting young children in the United States.

The American Obesity Association claims 15 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years-old and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years-old, are obese in America. Obesity in children is a major health risk in the child's development. Obesity can create many social problems for young children as well as emotional problems.

Studies indicate that obese children will most likely become obese adults as well.

On average, according to the CDC, one in seven pre-school aged children is obese. Children aged 2 to 4 have also shown increased obesity rates from 12.4 percent in 1998 to 14.6 percent in 2008.

OBESITY IN ADULTS: In 2008, only one state, Colorado, had less than 20 percent obesity rates, according to the CDC. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25 percent.

A 2008 Bloomberg Businessweek article claims that adult obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980. Two-thirds of adults are now considered overweight.

With obesity so comes hypertension, which is a prevalent condition in obese adults. Currently the cost of health care for obese adults exceeds $61- billion annually.

STUDY RESULTS: An online study performed by researchers Jason Bocarro and Jonathan Casper of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, included almost 2,500 children. They examined the children's attitudes towards sports and physical activities, what sports they were involved in and how they felt about themselves (self-esteem).

The results demonstrated that many middle school children's level of involvement in physical activities significantly dropped. Furthermore, 68 percent of the children said they wish they were more active in sports and physical activities.

More survey results confirmed that those children who were more active reported lower barriers. These children were offered more opportunities to participate in community sports.

Research has also shown that those children who are offered more opportunities, especially for community involvement, demonstrate higher intentions to continue playing sports. More importantly, children who participate in sports and stay involved report a higher feeling of being accepted by others.

? For More Information, Contact:

Jason N. Bocarro, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
North Carolina State University
(O) (919) 513-8025

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