A recent nationwide survey aimed at gauging the fitness level of children revealed that almost 50 per cent children in India do not have a healthy BMI (18.5-22.9). Times of India reported that the 2020 11th edition of the Sportz Villages’ annual health survey covered 2, 54,681 children in the age group of 7 to 17 years from 364 schools, both private and government across 250 cities and towns.
The study also revealed that almost 66 per cent children lack desired aerobic capacity and 33 per cent had poor anaerobic capacity. One in six, or 16 per cent, children did not have the desired upper abdominal or core strength and 50 per cent children lacked upper body strength. Despite being young, 33 per cent of the children were not adequately flexible and 66 per cent of children didn’t have enough lower body strength. Highlighting gender-specific trends the survey reported that girls fared better than boys in BMI, flexibility and upper body strength but boys scored better than girls in aerobic capacity and lower body strength.
Private school children scored higher than those in government schools when it came to BMI levels. 46 per cent children in private schools had a healthy BMI as compared to 42 per cent in government schools, but 75 per cent of children in government schools had good anaerobic capacity, which means they were good at doing activities that need sudden burst of energy, like sprinting and jumping. Private school children did well in tests to determine upper body strength, 43 per cent of them all were found to have adequate upper body strength. School children from north India were found to be healthier than children from the rest of the country with best numbers in the parameters of BMI and aerobic capacity, and above average numbers in the parameters of flexibility, upper body strength, lower body strength and core strength. However, they performed very poorly in anaerobic capacity. In the south, school children showed above average performance in BMI and anaerobic capacity. Children in eastern India scored well in flexibility, core strength and anaerobic capacity but fared poorly on BMI. More than half the children in western India have good upper body strength and 80 per cent had above average core strength. However, their BMI levels and anaerobic capacity were found to be average.
Saumil Majmudar, CEO and Founder, Sportz Village attributes the poor fitness levels in children to a number of factors, like sedentary lifestyle and lack of focus on sports in schools. “While junk food does lead to health issues, the real problem is ‘junk lifestyle’ which does not include daily activity and play. Lack of access to open and safe play spaces also impacts the fitness levels of children. Apart from lack of access, there is also a related issue of aggregation i.e. children like to play when other children like them (skill/fitness/mind-set) are also coming to play. Just getting one child access to an empty playground with some sports equipment doesn’t work.” He also emphasised on the importance of introducing structured play at school which is inclusive and age appropriate.
*Image source: @shutterstock / for representational purposes only.