The Cayman Islands has the
distinction of being at the top of a list, but it’s not something anyone here
should brag about.
In fact, we should hang our
collective heads in shame.
It seems that Cayman’s teenagers
are the least physically active in a sampling of 34 countries in the world. At
least Cayman doesn’t hold the dubious honour by itself; St. Lucia is right
there with us.
According to a study conducted by
the World Health Organisation, 58 per cent of boys and 64 per cent of girls
aged 13-15 in the Cayman Islands are considered sedentary, which means they
spend three hours or more every day outside of school being inactive.
What are these children doing?
They’re watching television, playing video games, surfing the Internet,
chatting to friends on the telephone or through some text messaging service.
While parents might think these
things are better than having their children out getting into trouble, they should
also understand that there are serious health consequences to leading sedentary
lives, especially from such early ages.
A sedentary lifestyle in children
often leads to obesity, which in turn can lead to diabetes and heart disease,
both of which are a growing problem in the Cayman Islands.
So although parents might think
their children are staying out of trouble by staying in and amusing themselves
with technology, they are actually getting in a different kind of trouble, one
that is potentially very dangerous.
Parents have a responsibility to
make sure their kids get enough exercise on a daily basis. Sports are great,
but exercise doesn’t have to be in a competitive environment. And it doesn’t
have to necessarily be strenuous like running.
Just walking or riding a bicycle is beneficial.
Allowing children to lead sedentary
lives is setting them up for continuing the pattern. Inactive teenagers are much more likely to
become inactive adults. When that
happens, Cayman might find itself on the top of another list, like the one for
highest incidence of diabetes or heart disease in the world. This is something none of us wants to see.