The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), has called on the government to among other things incorporate physical and health education activities in the curriculum of all private and public schools in the country for children and youths.
It said national guideline on physical activity level and sedentary behaviour should be formulated as this would help in the reduction of non communicable diseases later in life.
Speaking during the presentation of the 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youths, the Executive Secretary, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, who led the research, said physical activity was a major determinant of NCDs in view of the scientific evidence that regular physical activity from childhood and youth have strong positive effect on heart throughout life.
He said the Report Card, which is the second edition of the maiden edition in 2013 was inspired by the Active Health Kids Canada Report Card, and has researchers from Nigerian universities, research institutes, civil society organisations, sports academies focused.
“The findings of the research therefore call for National Representative Data on physical transportation and sedentary behaviour in children and youths. Advocating and promoting a healthy lifestyle from an early age will help to prevent obesity and overweight among children and youth.
“We also therefore recommend for a national report card scientific advisory implementation panel composed of researchers, exercise and sports specialists, nutritionists, media personalities, policy makers, medical doctors and other stakeholders based in the Ministry of Health,” he added.
Akinroye also called on parents to engage in regulating the amount of sedentary time their children spend while in homes. “For example, they could limit the amount of time their children spend watching television and playing video games to up to two hours daily,” he added.
On his part, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said in view of the task to fight NCDs in the country, there was need for his Ministry, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youths and Sports, national sports Institutes, research institutes, universities, sports academies, manufacturers of sports equipments, and other stakeholders to be part of the campaign for healthy lifestyle in children and youths.
“Globally, NCDs, primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes are responsible for 63 per cent of all deaths (36 out of 57 million global deaths). In Nigeria, NCDs accounted for 27 per cent of the total deaths in 2008, according to the World Health Organisation NCD country profile, 2002.
“Unhealthy diets, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and sedentary lifestyle are the major clustering factors for the development of NCDs. These risk factors are aggravated by poor awareness harmful cultural practice, beliefs and misconceptions by the public,” he explained.
He said the WHO classifies physical inactivity as the fourth leading cause of global mortality and one of the greatest health challenges and determinants of NCDs, adding that a major concern is the potential for a prolonged health consequences in children and youths.
While commending the NHF and its researchers for a job-well-done, he said the ministry will take recommendations from the research seriously, as it will help in making relevant decisions.
Lending his voice, the past President, NHF, Prof. O. Akingugbe said the report card was a tool to provide research, guidelines, advocacy and a priority action on the promotion of physical activity in Nigeria.
He called on stakeholders to take advantage of the outcome and recommendations of the research in development of policies and its implementation in the country.