Dr. Mark Tremblay discusses the health consequences of sedentary behaviour in a recent article from the Calgary Herald titled, “Sit less, live more: Why sitting is the new tobacco – and how to quit“.

From the article:

“The vast majority of children are exceeding the target for sedentary screen time,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, the director of healthy active living and obesity research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

Tremblay shares the recommended limits for recreational (not school-related) screen time: under the age of two, it’s none. For kids aged three to four, it’s one hour. And for those aged five to 17, it’s two hours per day.

But according to the report, 46 per cent of Canadian kids get three hours or less of active play per week, and 63 per cent of their free time is spent being sedentary. Screens — televisions, computers, games, tablets and phones — are a major issue, says Tremblay.

The consequence is “an increase in positive caloric balance,” he says. In other words, our kids aren’t burning off the calories they’re taking in. The result can be weight gain and health loss.

Tremblay uses the analogy of a bank account for health — when children are active, they’re challenging their bodies, depositing good health into elements such as skeletons and cardiovascular systems.

“In the absence of that challenge or overload, you’re not going to end up with as much in your savings account, which you slowly withdraw as you age. It forecasts essentially accelerated aging,” he says, adding that pediatric hospitals across the country are seeing increasing cases of traditionally adult conditions such as hypertension.

“It’s being said that sitting is the new tobacco,” Tremblay says. “It’s the public health challenge of our day.”

Click here to read the article in full.