The lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating contribute to child obesity and a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. On the other hand, regular physical activity helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications. Physical activity can also help people avoid developing functional limitations and can improve physical function.
Despite the proven benefits of physical activity, about two-thirds of young people in grades 9–12 are not engaged in recommended levels of physical activity. Daily participation in high school physical education classes dropped from 42% in 1991 to 33% in 2005.
Promoting regular physical activity and healthy eating and creating an environment that supports these behaviors are essential to addressing child obesity. Moreover, physical activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial. For example, youth can benefit from moderate-intensity physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week.