Physical activity as primary prevention: evaluating novel interventions for child health

Physical activity can help prevent a host of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis and obesity, two major medical conditions that likely begin with childhood inactivity. But it’s estimated that three out of five Canadian youths between five and 17 years of age are not physically active enough to ensure optimal growth and development. Weight reduction programs targeting children who are already obese have largely been unsuccessful, which indicates the need for a stronger focus on developing more effective prevention strategies. Several studies have shown that school-based programs can effectively improve bone health. Dr. Heather McKay is evaluating the impact of innovative physical activity programs on bone health and weight of elementary school children, research that could lead to the development and implementation of public health programs to encourage physical activity and improve the health of Canadian children.