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Sloth bigger threat than gluttony

Sloth bigger threat than gluttony claims leading activity researcher

A leading New Zealand physical activity researcher believes inactivity could be contributing more to the obesity epidemic facing the country’s youth than was first thought.

Dr Grant Schofield, a Senior Lecturer in the New Zealand Institute of Sport and Recreation Studies, which is based at AUT’s Akoranga campus on Auckland’s North Shore, co-authored an article in the latest edition of the journal Youth Studies Australia. The publication was dedicated to “Youth sport, physical activity and leisure in Australia and New Zealand.”

While currently much attention is paid to poor nutrition as a cause of obesity in adolescents, Dr Schofield says a decline in the activity levels of youth should not be ignored.

“A growing body of research indicates that low activity rather than overeating may be a significant basis of the obesity problem.

“Much of Auckland’s rush hour traffic congestion is caused by parents driving their children to school. Fifteen years ago most children would walk to school,” says Dr Schofield.

He says that in order for Government to formulate appropriate policy to counter the problem, more in-depth research needs to be conducted.

“The data to make any definitive conclusions and empirically informed policy directions is conspicuous by its absence.”

Dr Schofield says while there have been several studies into the health of young New Zealanders, little cross-sectional population data are available in any New Zealand age group simultaneously examining body fatness, dietary habits, and physical activity.

“Much of the physical activity data that does exist has not been collected using well-validated and reliable measures.

“As a national research priority New Zealand must establish a regular national public health surveillance programme concurrently measuring youth nutrition, physical activity, and body composition that accounts for the ethnic diversity in New Zealand.

The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in the population is a serious problem with profound long-term repercussions for the New Zealand health system.

“Conservative estimates are that obesity costs New Zealand at least $135 million annually. This does not include downstream costs associated with lifestyle diseases. Type II diabetes alone costs more than $280 million a year.”


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