Health, fitness levels of schoolchildren far from satisfactory, says survey

Health, fitness levels of schoolchildren  far from satisfactory, says survey

Every third school-going child in India has an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Only schools with more than three sessions of physical education have fitter children.

Girls are better than boys in this area. These are some of the key findings of a nationwide School Health and Fitness study.

Bengaluru schoolchildren fared better than the national average, the study by EduSports found. But, in general, the fitness and BMI level - regardless of age, gender, region or city - continues to be far from satisfactory, notes the study that covered 1.7 lakh children in the age group of 7 to 17 years. Students from 326 schools across 86 cities in 26 states were part of the study.

The study was built into the co-scholastic curriculum of schools for the academic year 2015-2016. It assessed fitness parameters, like sprint capacity, flexibility, lower and upper body strength, abdominal strength and body mass index (BMI). Girls were marginally better than boys in terms of a healthy BMI. At least 51% girls had desired levels of flexibility compared to only 45% 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.

Students from the city
Students from the city schools had a higher sprint capacity (78.83%) compared to the national average of 66.33%. However, in terms of upper body strength, Bengaluru students scored only (61.87%) compared to the India average of 65.36%.

Research has shown that 60 minutes of reasonably rigorous playtime daily is ideal for a growing child to be healthy and fit. In the second part of the study, EduSports compared data of schools with three or more Physical Education (PE) periods per week with schools that had less than three PE periods. A total of 1,10,076 children from 245 schools in 86 cities were surveyed. All the schools ran a structured sports programme for at least nine months.

The study found that children with more than three PE sessions per week were fitter. Here’s the comparison: Upper body strength (79% vs 64%), lower body strength (53 % vs 45%), flexibility (67% vs 55%), abdominal strength (69% vs 63%) and sprint capacity (71% vs 69%).

Sports sustain fitness
The study tracked the BMI scores of primary, middle and high school children over three years from the time a structured sports programme was introduced. Here are the results: 65% primary and high school children improved their BMI score compared to 59% three years ago. While the corresponding numbers for middle school children went up from 61% to 70%.
DH News Service

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