One in five Dutch youths will be obese by 2015 according to a recent report by the NICIS institute for social- economic developments in metropolitan areas on obesity among Dutch youths.
According to the report, less than 10 per cent of children aged four to 12 is physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day needed for a healthy lifestyle.
Among children aged 12 to 17, less than 30 per cent met the minimum required standard.
The researchers also found that city infrastructure plays an important role in fighting obesity among youths.
The more options children have to be physically active, the more likely they are to be physically active - and the less likely they are to become obese.
"Cities underestimate their role in the health of children," NICIS director Wim Hafkam said. "They need to invest more in city infrastructure."
Creating more bike lanes is one way of encouraging parents to send their children to school by bike, the report said.
Many children in the Netherlands travel to school by bike or on foot, but in recent years the number of parents driving their children to school has increased.
The researchers say this trend needs to be reversed - more children should walk or ride their bicycles to school.
They point out that most children would already meet the required minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, if they went to school on foot or by bike.
Cities could also make playgrounds cleaner and more appealing. Playgrounds were often unsafe and filthy and children were forced to hang around in areas where physical activity was not an option.
The report also said the parental role model is an important determinant in predicting obesity among children. The more physically active parents tend to be, the more their children copy this behaviour.
Girls from Muslim homes require special attention when it comes to physical activity. The Netherlands has a large immigrant population, mainly from Muslim north-Africa and Turkey.
Immigrant youths are much less likely to be physically active than native Dutch nationals. Among immigrant girls, the numbers are even lower than among immigrant boys.
More obligatory sports activities at school could be a solution, the report said.
Last Mod: 10 Eylül 2007, 12:53