“It seems, in other words, that poverty tends to make people less fit primarily when they live in a relatively rich country. Being poor but surrounded by fast food, automobiles, and television is more detrimental than being poor in a rural environment where physical activity is a necessary part of daily life.”
The below youth fitness chart is taken from a recent article over at Outside.
“We see big disparities in where the fittest kids come from. They typically come from Africa and northern central Europe, whereas the least fit come from South America and right here in the U.S.,” says Tomkinson. Photo: Courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Whilst raising four young girls to be healthy, strong and positive people in today’s world and has somebody who has an interest in nutrition (predominantly plant-based) and environmentally aware of the impact that humans have on our planet, I am always drawn to articles like this.
In the U.K. If we want to look five years in to the future to see trends and how they may impact our health or environmental policies we need not look any further than to the USA.
I was surprised and delighted to see the U.K rank has high as we have on the above table.
“In a study published this past August in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers combined data from 177 previous studies conducted around the world to better understand the link between a country’s income inequality and youth fitness. Specifically, the researchers compared a country’s Gini Index, which measures how income is distributed throughout a nation, with children’s performance on the 20-meter shuttle-run test in that same country. They found that the greater a country’s income disparity, the less likely their children were to do well on the shuttle run.”
I urge you to read the original article linked above.
The study as thrown up some very interesting data regarding not only the gap with wealth. But also the impact of the environment we live in having such an impact on our health.
We used to live in an inner city (Birmingham. UK) we chose to move to Yorkshire to give a better quality of life to our children. Even though we had more on our doorstep in Birmingham than we do in Yorkshire we spent more time moving about in a stationary manner, be it using the train, tram and car. We now live in a more remote area and are more active on a daily basis such as walking the children to the school, park, villages etc.
The more wealth and more possessions Humans have the less happy and healthier we seem to be, putting aside the poverty to fast food health equation to one side which is often found in more urban areas such a large cities rather than rural areas you will often find the fittest, healthier and happier people are those content with less possessions be it by default or choice and living in a more natural and rural environment.
As the abnormal increasingly becomes the normal it becomes harder to reinforce what is natural. Girls from an increasingly younger age are more and more body aware. As obesity and larger children become the norm, more and more children are bullied for been a natural and healthy weight. Medical assessments take averages and children who are healthy are told they are considerably underweight due to the average of their peers.
The scales have sadly changed for the worse. A challenge parents have to tackle head-on, on a daily basis. In going against the grain to raise healthy, fit and happy confident children.