Troubling Health Statistics

Couch potato American kids run slower than their parents did 30 years ago

American kids are fatter and slower than their peers from 30 years ago

Kids exercising
Kids need an hour of vigorous exercise every day. Photo courtesy of American Heart Association
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Obesity is a growing global problem. Photo by Guillaume Millet/Flickr
Kids exercising
obesity in Mexico fat people

In the latest edition of depressing news about the world today, new findings released at the American Heart Association conference in Dallas show our children are slower runners than their parents. The study examined fitness data on 25 million children in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010.

In an endurance test, children ran distances between a half-mile and two miles with times ranging from five to 15 minutes. The results showed a global decline in endurance of about 5 percent per decade.

 Children's decline in heart health and thus endurance is linked to an increase in fat.

In the U.S., the decline was a bit higher, at 6 percent. Today's children run a mile about one-and-a-half minutes slower than their peers did 30 years ago, equating to a 15 percent decline in heart health. 

"If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life," lead author Grant Tomkinson said in a statement. 

Although troubling, Tomkinson isn't stumped by the findings. He says between 30 and 60 percent of the decline in heart health can be attributed to children's increased levels of fat.

To improve the figures, Tomkinson suggests we all get moving. An hour of running, swimming or cycling uses the body's "big muscles" and breaks down fat.

"We need to help to inspire children and youth to develop fitness habits that will keep them healthy now and into the future," Tomkinson said.