PETALING JAYA: Malaysian teenagers are just not doing enough exercise.
A global study found a “prevalence of insufficient physical activity” in nine out of 10 Malaysian teenage girls.
Published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health last week, the study noted no improvement between female teens in 2016 compared to those 15 years ago.
In fact, about 0.3% of those teens in 2001 exercised more.
Teenage Malaysian boys were not any better – with about eight out of 10 not getting enough exercise.
On the positive side, more of these boys were getting physical activity, with the statistic dropping from 82.5% to 80.6% over the same period.
The study was conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) based on a survey of 1.6 million schoolgoing adolescents across 146 countries to assess insufficient physical activity in 2001 and 2016.
WHO’s recommendation on physical activity for those between the ages of five and 17 is exercising for least an hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.
It should be noted that the trend in Malaysia is consistent with global trends.
The study found that more than 80% of schoolgoing adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 did not meet current recommendations for daily physical activity in 2016.
The study also found that globally, girls were less active than boys, with significant differences recorded between sexes in seven out of nine regions.
The regions categorised in the survey were listed as central and eastern Europe, central Asia, Middle East and north Africa, East and South-East Asia, high-income Asia Pacific, high-income western countries, Latin America and Caribbean, Oceania, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The study noted that if the trend continues, the global target of a 15% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity to a global prevalence of less than 70% will not be met by 2030.
“Urgent action is needed now, particularly through targeted interventions to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity.
“Policy action aimed at increasing physical activity should be prioritised, and stronger government and stakeholder leadership is needed to support the scaling of responses across multiple sectors, ” the study noted.
In the Asean region, only Thailand and Singapore recorded a decrease of insufficient physical activity in both sexes.
The study noted that South Korea was the country in the world with the highest prevalence of insufficient activity among adolescents
of both sexes with a combined average of 94.2%, follow by the Philippines at 93.4% and Cambodia at 91.6%. -The Star