Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp e22–e27 | Cite as

Active play: An important physical activity strategy in the fight against childhood obesity

  • Ian JanssenEmail author
Quantitative Research


OBJECTIVES: To quantify and compare the number of calories that school-aged Canadian children expend to meet established benchmarks for active play and organized physical activities (i.e., organized sport, physical education, active transportation).

METHODS: This study was informed by the benchmarks (i.e., amount of activity a child needs to be sufficiently active) and grades (i.e., how Canada as a country is doing) for the physical activity domains included in the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Established physical activity energy expenditure data were used to calculate the number of calories that the average 6–11 year old child would expend to meet the Report Card physical activity benchmarks. The increase in energy expenditure at the population-level that would occur if each Report Card grade was to improve by one letter grade was estimated based on the aforementioned estimates and the proportion of the population impacted should the grade improve.

RESULTS: When averaged across all 365 days of the year, the average 6–11 year old Canadian would expend an added 186 kcal/day to meet the active play benchmark, 23 kcal/day to meet the organized sport benchmark, 6 kcal/day to meet the physical education benchmark, and 16 kcal/day to meet the active transportation to school benchmark. Increasing the Report Card grades for these four domains would address 37%, 1%, 1%, and 3% of the energy gap, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity in an attempt to address childhood obesity should include an active play component.

Key words

Child play and playthings motor activity 


OBJECTIFS: Chiffrer et comparer le nombre de calories dépensées par les enfants canadiens d’âge scolaire pour respecter des balises établies pour le jeu actif et les activités physiques structurées (sport organisé, éducation physique, transport actif).

MÉTHODE: Notre étude était étayée par les balises (la quantité d’activité dont un enfant a besoin pour être suffisamment actif) et les notes (la performance du Canada en tant que pays) attribuées aux domaines d’activité physique inclus dans le Bulletin canadien de l’activité physique chez les jeunes de Jeunes en forme Canada. Les données attestées sur la force dépensée pour l’activité physique ont servi à calculer le nombre de calories que l’enfant moyen de 6 à 11 ans dépenserait pour respecter les balises d’activité physique du Bulletin. Nous avons estimé quelle serait l’augmentation de la force dépensée à l’échelle de la population si chaque note alphabétique du Bulletin s’améliorait d’un niveau, d’après les estimations susmentionnées, et la proportion de la population touchée si la note s’améliorait.

RÉSULTATS: Lorsqu’on fait une moyenne sur les 365 jours de l’année, l’enfant canadien moyen de 6 à 11 ans dépenserait 186 kcal/jour de plus pour respecter la balise du jeu actif, 23 kcal/jour pour celle du sport organisé, 6 kcal/jour pour celle de l’éducation physique et 16 kcal/jour pour celle du transport actif pour aller à l’école. Hausser les notes du Bulletin dans ces quatre domaines permettrait de résorber 37 %, 1 %, 1 % et 3 % du fossé énergétique, respectivement.

CONCLUSION: Les initiatives visant à accroître l’activité physique afin de lutter contre l’obésité juvénile devraient inclure un élément de jeu actif.

Mots clés

enfant jeux et jouets activité motrice 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, and Department of Public Health SciencesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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