Physical inactivity as one of the chronic disease risk factors among high school learners in public schools in a local community in South Africa

06 Aug 2012

This study aimed to determine the physical activity levels and existence of risk factors associated with chronic diseases of lifestyle among high school learners. A crosssectional research design was used to obtain information about physical activity levels from 951 learners from two high schools in a local community in the Western Province of South Africa. Physical activity levels were obtained using the KUOPIO Ischaemic Heart Disease 24-hour physical activity record over a seven-day period. Anthropometrical and blood pressure measurements as well as behaviours including cigarette smoking and alcohol use were recorded as risk factors for chronic diseases of lifestyle. Statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (2000). Risk factors were identified as obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and hypertension. Variance of analysis (ANOVA) was used to statistically determine differences in groups. The results indicated that 32% of the learners were classified as being physically inactive and that 21% engaged in health risk behaviours. In addition, 35% of the learners had more than one risk factor for chronic diseases of lifestyle present. Since cardiovascular risk factors have been shown to persist into adulthood, health professionals should assume some responsibility for the prevention, detection, and intervention relevant to cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents.