It’s no secret that obesity is a growing problem in the United States with lack of physical activity being one of the main causes. When we’re younger our activity levels appear to be at its highest, but as we get older and our interests change, the less physically active we seem to become, and according to new research reported by NPR this lack of activity is especially acute among African-American teen girls.
A National Institute of Health study followed girls for 10 years, beginning at age 8 or 9, and found that over time their leisure-time physical activity declined dramatically and even more so for African-American girls. By age 17, half of the black girls followed — compared with a third of white girls — reported that they did no physical activity in their leisure time and experts are concluding that this decline at such a young age could be the reason that about half of African-American women in the U.S. are obese, compared with 30 percent of white women and why African-American women tend to put on weight years before their white counterparts.
Of course the layers to this issue go far deeper than this study suggests. Enrolling children in sports often costs money which for many minorities is an expense they can’t afford, especially since not only do minorities generally earn less than whites, but women earn less than men and many minority households are headed by single mothers. However it does make you think twice about the long term consequences of not encouraging children to participate in some form of physical activity as they age, even if it’s free.
Sound-Off: Did you stop exercising when you started puberty? When did you give up playing outside?