Times of India : Girls Are Fitter Than Boys of The Same Age (2019)
The Times of India is an English language newspaper which was established in 1838. It also has a digital publication. The paper is owned by a media conglomerate known as the Times Group. The corporation has been under the ownership of the Sahu Jain family. Public health is mentioned in the news and it becomes a concern when speaking about children. The modern age has seen many children stop being active outdoors. Video games, cell phones, and TV may occupy children’s time more than going outdoors. India conducts an annual health survey done by EduSports. It was attempting to see the status of children’s physical fitness in 21 of India states. India has a total of 28 states and eight union territories. That means there was a gap in data collection. The 2019 study showed that girls had higher fitness than boys. The result seems suspicious. Girls and boys have similar fitness until puberty alters physiology. The measures held constant even to the age of 17. Boys at that stage have reached their strength spurt. The explanation could be that boys are getting less exercise than girls. Lack of physical education programs in schools could impact children’s fitness. Other regions may not have the resources for recreational sport for children. The results do not mean women are getting stronger than men. Girls and women just are getting more active, while males are not maintaining their fitness.
The fitness scoring showed that girls ranked higher. That should not be the case between the ages 1 to 10. Boys and girls have similar body composition. Girls start their growth spurt earlier, which means for a brief period between ages 11 to 13 they could be stronger. The perplexing part of this is that in the 13 to 17 age range it held constant. Oddly, boys out scored girls in lower body strength and aerobic capacity. The girls did better in flexibility, upper body strength, and abdominal strength. The assumption would be that it would be the reverse. The sample size was large enough to extrapolate an assessment.
Biology and environment can effect fitness. If girls are showing higher fitness, why are they not more active in sports? This indicates our society can influence our health and physical activity participation.
A total 279 schools were involved. The total number of children documented were 1, 53, 441. What the study did not reveal is how much exercise did children get on a daily basis. What can be pondered is that boys are doing less in comparison to girls. If the boys in the 13 to 17 age group were doing the same amount then boys would score higher in all areas. Data can be distorted depending on what is used to measure fitness. Experiments require precise measurement to avoid incorrect conclusions. Girls and boys would have the same physical fitness capacity from birth to age 13. Boys would surpass them when the strength spurt occurs. The EduSport study makes it seem as if boys became weaker and girls are stronger . What it shows is that girls are most likely getting more physical activity.
Using body mass index is not a quality measurement for fitness. The reason is it can classify people as obese who do not have a weight related health issue. A muscular person can be obese and a thin person can be designated as underweight. According to the report 63% of girls had a healthy BMI compared to boys’ 59%. Children may just be too small to be added to a BMI index. Another chart has to be used for children and teenagers to account for changes in their body size.
BMI has no means of showing the difference between muscle and fat mass. It just takes the total body mass. It does not take into account the various somatotypes.
The CDC recommends that the adult BMI be used starting at age 20. Even so, the BMI can be misleading. Looking at muscle mass to fat ratio would be better. Skin fold calipers would be a better measuring tool. While testing hand grip can have issues, it provides at least some accuracy in strength estimation. The use of BMI probably distorted fitness measures. The suggestion that 40% of children have poor BMI might not be actually revealing the condition of their health.
A disparity exists with the fitness of children. This is related to class. The data showed that children (39%) were underweight. This segment attended governments schools. The private school children did not have as high of cases of being underweight (15 %). India has a problem with food insecurity. Poverty and social inequality are culprits in the country. India has experience d economic growth and is more than capable of cereal production. The reality is that there needs to be a radical redistribution of wealth. The private school children are most likely from wealthier families which can provide more food for them. Their schools probably have better facilities to accommodate sports and other physical activity. The government schools might not get as much funding. What is seen here is how an economic and political system can negatively impact children’s health. Not getting enough food can stunt growth and make it difficult to concentrate . Certain parts of the world are struggling with obesity and food waste. Others are starving or are not getting the recommended caloric intake. The only solution to ensure that children have access to a school lunch. India’s policy should be to reduce food insecurity. People can starve or be food insecure in wealthy nations. This can be reversed through changes in policy.
Children do not get as much physical activity. TV, videos games, and electronic devices are what children are investing their time in. Playing outside was a treat for most children. Recess and physical education at school might be the only time exercise is done. Parents should encourage children to be active. This does not mean make them play a sport. A child should only do that when they show interest. Parents should not force their children in sports. A simple walk or the mere act of play can be enough exercise. This will encourage healthy habits throughout life. The government can also play a role. Building more parks, playgrounds, or recreational activity areas can vastly benefit the public. Providing healthy food options in schools can help. Having enough time for recess and physical education is needed. The average life expectancy has increased in India. Women can live up to 70.3 years and men reach 68. 46 years. Seeing as the population is both growing and living longer it is essential to take care of health.
The survey did have some errors. When compiling data this is bound to happen. The results showed that girls in all age groups were fitter than boys. The question remains would this translate into adulthood. Women should be fitter than men. That is not correct. What the survey shows is either boys are not as physically active as girls. The other possibility is that some boys in the survey had delayed puberty and therefore did not get their strength spurt yet. Lack of food or proper nutrition can cause this. The survey showed that some children were underweight. Using BMI can distort fitness measures.
According to the survey women would be stronger than men. What it shows is that boys for some reason became less physically active.
The survey did show children were seeing an improvement in fitness. The strength and flexibility scores were higher than the previous study. This comes into question, because the reliability of BMI is debated. Maybe a simple way is to determine how much physical activity children get and extrapolate a conclusion. The boys scored higher on aerobic capacity. That should not be the case for the age group 2 to 12. Lung and heart size has not increased in boys yet. Airway size does not change until puberty. Saumil Majumdar CEO of Edusport stated there was much more to do for children’s health. That can not be certain if the method of measure is questionable. The BMI is not the best measure of health or fitness. Dr Madhu Thottappill proposes a simple solution. Exercise, quality nutrition, and playing various games will keep children healthy.