CHILDREN in the Philippines are among the most physically inactive in the region, getting an F — a failing grade — for overall physical activity.

According to the country’s Youth Physical Activity Report Card, less than a fifth of those aged six to 17 achieve the daily 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity recommended by the World Health Organization. And less than half of children in the Philippines use active transportation, such as walking or cycling.

In terms of overall physical activity, the Philippines is joined at the bottom by Indonesia and Vietnam, both with a grade of F; Hong Kong and Malaysia, meanwhile, received a D-minus.

Sponsored by life insurer Sun Life together with Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA), the physical activity report cards raise the alarm on sedentary behavior and reflect the negative impact of digital media use trends among the youth.

“Our shared commitment to disease prevention is particularly important and timely in the wake of unintended collateral harm to active living behaviors resulting from COVID-19 restrictions,” said AHKGA President Dr. Mark Tremblay, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Ottawa in Canada, in a statement.

Released on Nov. 23, the Youth Physical Activity Report Cards assign letter grades to 10 different indicators grouped into behaviors and characteristics (overall physical activity, organized sports and physical activity, active play, active transportation, sedentary behaviors, physical fitness) and sources of influence (family and peers, school, community and environment, government).

Physical inactivity has been recognized as a risk factor for non-communicable diseases like diabetes. Regular physical activity among children and adolescents has benefits for physical fitness, cardiometabolic health, bone health, and psycho-cognitive wellness.

A tenth (11.6%) of Filipino children aged 10-19 years were either overweight or obese in 2019. — P. B. Mirasol