A visiting health professor and a world leader on research into
school children's physical fitness will give a public lecture about
making children healthier at the University of Canterbury (UC) next
About 11 percent of New Zealand children up to the age of 14 are
considered obese. Another 20 percent are overweight and at risk of
Professor Mike Metzler says the data on United States children
is about the same and, in both countries, the rates go way up for
kids at the lower socio-economic end.
"Only about 20 percent of US high school students are active
more than 60 minutes each day. The latest New Zealand data will be
released soon. In 2007 only about 11 percent met that standard.
"There is much concern that this will be the first generation to
have a shorter average life span than their parents. Much of that
is due to diseases attributable to sedentary lifestyles and poor
"My lecture will focus on what schools can do to increase
children's physical activity as advocated by the US Institute of
Medicine in their 2013 report."
The US Institute of Medicine report says scheduled time in
physical education alone cannot achieve the daily physical activity
goal. It is imperative that all teachers, administrators and
certain community agencies must be involved in working towards this
Professor Metzler, a professor of physical education teacher
education at Georgia State University, is regarded by his
international peers as an influential leader in children's physical
He is an Erskine visitor to UC. The Erskine Programme was
established in 1963 following a generous bequest by former
distinguished UC student John Erskine.
Physical inactivity is a key determinant of health across the
lifespan. A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease,
colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension,
osteoporosis, anxiety and depression.
Emerging literature suggests that in terms of mortality, the
global population health burden of physical inactivity approaches
that of cigarette smoking. The prevalence and substantial disease
risk associated with physical inactivity has been described as a
pandemic, Professor Metzler says.
"The prevalence, health impact, and evidence of changeability
all have resulted in calls for action to increase physical activity
across the lifespan."
Professor Metzler will deliver his lecture at UC's Dovedale
Village, College of Education campus on Thursday, April 3.