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Apr 2012

Promoting the Health of Our Youth: Why Physical Activity Policies Are Critical

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(4):383-384. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.1245

As a result of the current focus on reversing the obesity epidemic, the benefits of increased physical activity are becoming more widely discussed. What is not discussed is that lack of physical activity may be a far greater public health problem than obesity. There is compelling evidence that aerobic fitness and physical activity may be stronger predictors of cardiovascular health than weight status.1 Despite the current focus on the importance of physical activity, youth do not come close to meeting recommendations, and disparities among communities in access to facilities, neighborhood safety, and family resources exacerbate the problem in high-risk populations. Schools can play a critical role in the solution because they act as “equalizers” when, across diverse communities, they provide youth with equal opportunities for physical activity within the school day.