Study: Cayman kids most inactive in world

A study published recently reveals
that Cayman’s young teens are the most inactive among a sampling of 34 countries
in the world.

It showed that 58 per cent of boys
and 64 per cent of girls aged 13 to 15 in Cayman and in St. Lucia spend more
than three hours a day watching TV, on computers or chatting with friends, outside
school hours.

Researchers studied questionnaires
from 70,000 young teens in schools in 34 countries and published their findings
in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Regina Guthold of the World Health
Organisation in Geneva and her colleagues found that most of the children they surveyed
worldwide were not getting enough exercise and that nearly a third of the kids
were sedentary.

“Even with the limitations that
questionnaire data [suffer] from, I guess it’s pretty safe to say that we have
a huge problem with physical inactivity among schoolchildren around the globe
and that we should take action,” Dr. Guthhold told the news agency Reuters.

The research team looked at questionnaires
answers from 72,845 13- to 15-year-old schoolchildren from North and South
America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East between 2003 and 2007. The survey
does not include the United States and most European countries.

The data was gleaned from the WHO’s
Global School-based Student Health Survey, a collaborative surveillance project
designed to help countries measure and assess the behavioural risk factors and
protective factors in 10 key areas among young people aged 13 to 15 years.

The WHO researchers defined
adequate physical activity as at least one hour of exercise outside of school gym
class, at least five days a week. Children who spent three or more hours a day being
inactive were classified as sedentary.

Children in Myanmar were found to
be the least sedentary, with 13 per cent of boys and 8 per cent of girls
classified as inactive for three hours or more a day; while Cayman and St. Lucia
had the most sedentary children.

According to the researchers, only one-quarter
of boys and 15 percent of girls were getting enough exercise worldwide, while a
quarter of boys and nearly 30 per cent of girls were sedentary and not getting
enough exercise.

Obesity among children, leading to
diabetes and heart disease in later life, is a growing problem in Cayman.

In a message on World Health Day on
7 April, health minister Mark Scotland said public health school entry
screenings for 2008-09 revealed that more than 27 per cent of children under
the age of six and almost 38 percent of school students aged between 11 and 14
are overweight.

Cayman has established a Children’s
Health Task Force to try to combat the increasing problem of childhood obesity.

Maureen Cubbon, programme
coordinator of the task force, said she was surprised that Cayman had topped
the list of global sedentary teenagers.

“Children are not being as active
as much as they should be and not eating well,” she said.

Dr. Guthold’s research showed that Uruguay
had the highest percentage of active boys, at 42 per cent, while Zambia had the
lowest, at 8 per cent. Girls from India were the most active, with 37 percent
meeting exercise recommendations, while girls from Egypt were the least active,
with just 4 per cent getting adequate exercise.


  1. As said in the story “Obesity among children, leading to diabetes and heart disease in later life, is a growing problem in Cayman”. This is a direct result of the relative inactivity of the children in Cayman. The Government has done nothing to build decent public parks (can you name more than 2 on the whole island!) which the youngsters can use after school hours. The lack of parks & playgrounds has certainty added to the problem. Also there is the growing trend of online social networking & texting on cell phones that is contributing to the menace of adolescent inactivity.

  2. The most important aspect of life should be the quality of life. Hence we must all accept responsibility for how we impact our health.

    Going forward we all pay dearly for health care issues particularily those costs which can be avoided through preventative measures including nutritional and general health education and practise.

    Moreover, youth must be educated and encouraged (not dictated) to be vigilant when it comes to health, quality of life and well being.

    Education and encouragement begins at home by those that covet and love. We know that children learn through emulation and empowerment.

    Therefor we only have ourselves to blame if we allow the ones we love to indulge sloth, heed the wake-up and pay attention, our children are the future of the world.

    Why not go for a jog, or a walk together and talk about it instead of the usual video entertainment distraction.

    I’m sure it will be alot healthier.

    Stevie D

  3. When we were kids we used to bicycle, walk and run everywhere. But it appears that in Cayman, there is no encouragement to do this. There are no designated bicycle lanes on any of the roads, and sidewalks don’t exist in many areas. So walking and cycling can even be hazardous to your health because of the risk of being run over. The Cayman culture has to change and people need to start pushing for change. New developments should be mandated to include sidewalks and cycle lanes. It may be more difficult to change existing roadways but you have to start somewhere. Many Spanish communities include a malecon (waterfront boardwalk) which families regularly use for a walk in the early evening. By comparison, George Town’s waterfront seems vastly underutilized from a pedestrian/tourism viewpoint.

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