Study: children today less fit than 30 years ago

Children today aren’t as fit as their parents were, according to a new study.

The study, by researchers in Australia, found kids take on average a minute and a half longer to run a mile than kids did 30 years ago. The report  looked at 25 million children worldwide and blamed childhood obesity as a major factor in the findings.

One Onalaska health teacher who’s been in the district for 22 years said that’s what he’s seen locally, too.

“The kids are bigger,” said Curt McIlquham. “So when they have to run the mile, obviously it’s a lot more mass they’re moving.”

McIlquham shared the study’s results with his health class Wednesday, and some students expressed surprise that they might not be as in shape as their parents were a few decades ago. McIlquham wasn’t.

“We’re facing the most sedentary generation in our history.”

But there are both school and county programs in our area targeting the trend of childhood obesity. In his Onalaska High School health class, McIlquham combines both education and fitness training, including strength and endurance work-outs.

The county is also getting involved. It sponsors programs like La Crosse’s Walking School Bus, an initiative encouraging kids and their parents to walk to class every Wednesday.


“We know that kids who are more active are better able to concentrate so when they get to school, they’re more awake.”

The county’s also getting involved in the fight against childhood obesity, with programs like La Crosse’s Walking School Bus every Wednesday morning.

“We know physical activity is connected to learning, so we know that kids who are more active are better able to concentrate,” said Virginia Loehr, a health educator at La Crosse County Health Department.

“The goal is to make walking and biking safe and appealing, and fun and exciting, so more kids start their day out with a short, 15-minute walk to school.”

The program has seen success, even as the weather turns cooler – more than 40 students at Hamilton Elementary participated in Wednesday’s Walking School Bus.

In Onalaska, McIlquham is doing his part to promote wellness in his students’ lives. He’s hoping to make a difference in each one of their lifestyles, but impacting just a handful would make him happy, too.

“If we make it for a few, if it helps one person per class, and you have four of these wellness classes going on right now, thats four people, changing their lifestyle.”