If all the kids in the world were to line up for a race, the average American child would finish at the back of the pack, suggested a new study.
An international research team co-led from the University of North Dakota and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) studied the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth across 50 countries. The results were just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Grant Tomkinson, associate professor of kinesiology in the UND College of Education & Human Development and senior author of the study said, "Canada fared moderately well placing just above middle of the pack. This study is the largest of its kind so it's exciting to have this evidence at hand."
The study involved analyzing 20-meter shuttle data, also called the beep test, from 1.1 million kids aged nine to 17 years old from 50 countries. The beep test is the most popular field based test of aerobic fitness levels of children and youth. It is also standardized and commonly used around the world.
Another key finding of this study is that income inequality - the gap between rich and poor as measured by the Gini Index - is strongly correlated with aerobic fitness. Children and youth from countries with a small gap between rich and poor appear to have better fitness.