Social environment is playing an important role

It is time to move on from the individual health strategy

The promotion of physical activity as a public health issue has been, and largely remains less developed than that of other public health areas. The pandemic of inactivity spans the world, and current trends in economic development and social transitions portend a likely increase in the prevalence of inactivity and the incidence of non-communicable diseases for years to come, particularly in countries with low and middle incomes. Failure to recognise and address this issue over the years may have been the result of the initial approaches to solving it focusing on individual health. Although much has been learned about how individuals can change their physical activity behaviour, what if instead we invest in family / parental responsibility as a strategy to change the physical activity behaviour of the whole family (children and parents)?

Family, School, and Work environments can drive change of personal lifestyles

The physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many elements of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage and entertainment industries. Families and schools are able to play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

Since the family is one of the key influential environments what if, instead of trying to change the behaviours of children and adolescents directly we try instead to change the lifestyles of the whole family as one (with adaptations related to age), improving simultaneously kids and adults?

 Moving towards the family role-model. Why is that important?

  1. Lifestyle changes are easier to achieve when all family members are participating: If the family lifestyle is not supporting physical activity then a change in kids lifestyle and physical activity behaviour is difficult if not impossible. The entire family has to understand the need to adapt to healthier behaviours for the benefit of the parents' and their children's health.

  2. Parents are role models for young kids: It is very difficult for kids and especially adolescents to listen to their parents' advice and follow healthier behaviours that are not corresponding with their parents' own practices and lifestyles. Parents are role-models especially for younger kids.

  3. Responsible Parenting could become a stronger motivation than personal health: Adults when becoming parents will often change a number of habits that think they do not fit with their new family life. Tobacco use is often one of them. Healthier lifestyles and physical activity should benefit from seeing parental responsibility as a primary motivation.

  4. Parents can spread the message in their working environments: Working place environments are extremely influential on the every day life of most adults.