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Fitness and health of children through sport: the context for action
  1. Lyle Micheli1,
  2. Margo Mountjoy2,3,
  3. Lars Engebretsen2,4,
  4. Ken Hardman5,
  5. Sonja Kahlmeier6,
  6. Estelle Lambert7,
  7. Arne Ljungqvist2,
  8. Victor Matsudo8,
  9. Heather McKay9,
  10. Carl Johan Sundberg10
  1. 1Division of Sports Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2IOC Medical Commission, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Department of Family Medicine, Institute of Sport & Exercise Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  5. 5University of Worcester, Worcester, UK
  6. 6Physical Activity and Health Unit, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  7. 7UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  8. 8Physical Fitness Research Laboratory, Sao Paolo, Brazil
  9. 9Department of Orthopaedics, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  10. 10Molecular Exercise Physiology, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Professor Lyle Micheli, Director, Division of Sports Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, 319 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; michelilyle{at}


A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that the declining levels of physical activity and fitness in children and youth are associated with adverse impacts on their health, including rising levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and increased risk of sports injury. In response, a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations have instituted programmes to promote health in children and youth through sports and physical activity. Many of these programmes have achieved success in increasing participation in sports and other forms of physical activity and, by extension, improving the health of these young people. These programmes have also been used successfully to enhance the lives of the young participants by means other than improving physical health.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.