Bad news for every parent who has signed their kid up for a sport in the hope that it will be good for them.
New research has found that joining a sports team might actually be bad for kids. Yeah, really. Bet you never saw that one coming.
You see, playing cricket/soccer/footy is great for the little people in our world. It’s what happens after the game that researchers are actually worried about.
We’re talking about the trips to Maccas after a cricket match at a faraway neighbourhood. The sausage sandwiches munched on after an end-of-season footy final. The lollies and soft drinks and biscuits and chip packets that kids are handed as they finish off another race at the swimming carnival.
It’s these snacks which mean children are eating more calories after matches than they’re actually burning while they exercise. The research study found that those calories are contributing to the increasing weight problems currently faced by children in the western world.
The study, undertaken by US scientists, involved studying a group of boys that played baseball in North Carolina. The boys were all aged eight to 11 and they played 12 games.
When looking at the kids’ snacking habits during the games, the researchers found that most snacks were food items such as cookies and French fries – high in calories, low in nutritional value.
Jospeh Skelton, senior author of the study and an associate professor of paediatrics at a medical center in North Carolina, said:
Though youth sports are an excellent way to promote physical activity, social interaction and positive health behaviours, the food environments are often characterised by less healthy food options with high calorie contents and lower nutrient density.
While this study was one from America, it’s just as relevant here in Australia – especially considering that fast-food outlets sponsor many of the sports that our kids play and watch. McDonald’s, for example, sponsors little athletics; their logo is on every certificate and uniform that a child receives when they participate in little athletics. Kids also receive a free meal voucher when they win something.