January 19, 2021

Nine out of 10 M'sian teenage girls not getting enough exercise, says study

2 min read

PETALING JAYA: Nine out of 10 Malaysian teenage girls are not getting enough exercise, according to a study conducted globally.

A study published by the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health on Nov 21 found that there was a “prevalence of insufficient physical activity” in 91.4% of teenage girls in the country in 2016.

The study also noted there was a marginal increase in the statistics in 2016, up 0.3% from 91.1% in 2001.

However, teenage Malaysian boys are not faring much better – with about eight out of 10 not getting enough exercise.

On the positive side, more teenage 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 Organisation (WHO) based on a survey of 1.6 million school-going adolescents across 146 countries to assess insufficient physical activity in 2001 and in 2016.

It should be noted that the trend in Malaysia is consistent with global trends and the study found that more than 80% of school-going adolescents between the ages of 11 to 17 did not meet current recommendations for daily physical activity in 2016.

WHO’s recommendation on physical activity for those between the ages of five to 17 are by exercising for least an hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

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 study was funded by the WHO.

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