Fun to Move@JC Survey: COVID-19 Affecting Children’s Physical and Mental Health
Results from Fun to Move@JC “Effects of Pandemic on School ChildrenReport” found the pandemic has negatively impacted kids
•63% of parents say children have put on weight while 28% say childrenhave eaten more, a statistically significant correlation
•57% of parents say children’s physical activity levels have decreased, while28% indicate children’s mental and emotional well-being worsened
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 should do at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day. However, a recent study conducted by the Fun to Move@JC project, which is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club and co-created by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), found primary school students have reduced levels of physical activity and gained weight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey “Effects of Pandemic on School Children Report” was revealed today (11 May). Attending guests at the press conference included the Club’s Executive Director, Charities and Community, Leong Cheung, and Professor Amy Ha, project leader of Fun to Move@JC and Associate Dean (Research) of CUHK’s Faculty of Education, as well as Professor of the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education.
The Fun to Move@JC project is supported by approved funding of over HK$97 million from the Club’s Charities Trust in 2017. This support is made possible through the Club’s integrated business model which enables it to maintain its tax and charity support for Hong Kong. The Project also aligns with the Club’s long-standing commitment to promoting healthy and active lifestyles for improved community health which in turn contribute to the betterment of our society.
“The Club is committed to promoting active sports participation. Through cross sectoral collaboration and use of innovative ideas, it is supporting a range of sports initiatives for different age groups to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing,” said Mr Cheung. “With the aid of school and family collaboration and use of technology and big data, the Fun to Move@JC project aims to develop a sustainable model that enhances primary students’ physical activity level, improving their motivation and efficacy. It also helps enhance their physical and mental wellbeing development which in turn helps build their confidence, team spirits and lifelong positive values.”
“Results of the survey we administered to parents in February suggest that the pandemic had a negative impact on the physical activity of children.” Professor Amy Ha explained. “There was a statistically significant correlation between physical activity and children’s physical health, as well as their mental and emotional health. The Project will continue to provide online activity class for free and encourage families to stay active by taking part in it. These classes have been very well received by children and parents.”
According to the survey findings, which interviewed a total of 800 parents of primary school students, nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents found their children had gained weight. Among them, 11% said their children had put on 3kg or more, while 28% said their children had consumed larger portions of food, showing a statistically significant correlation between meal portion size and children’s body weight.
About 61% of parents said that their children’s screen time had increased. Among them, 43% said the increase was 60 minutes or more per day. About 57% of parents found their children’s physical activity level had decreased. Among them, 24% said the decrease was 60 minutes or more per day. While 10% of parents thought their children’s physical health had deteriorated, 28% of parents said their children’s mental/emotional well-being had worsened.
The survey was conducted online in February 2021 via the Fun to Move@JC mobile application. It asked parents to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on their children compared to the latter’s physical and mental wellbeing in October 2020.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fun to Move@JC project had initiated a series of online activity classes for both children and families, including over 500 free online activity classes in the current academic year (September 2020 – May 2021), resulting in over 10,000 in total participation. It also provided to project participants pre-recorded online resources (YouTube videos) for home exercises and family activities, as well as training workshops for teachers on how to structure and deliver online PE instruction.
Based on data collected from the project’s sport bands, which were distributed to student participants, participants can accrue around 1,000 steps during one 30-minute online class. The data also showed that when students were learning from home between November 2020 and March 2021, nearly half of the participants achieved an average of 8,000 steps per day – a recommended level by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department,
High-resolution images and the full version of the report can be found here.
About Fun to Move@JC
Created and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, “Fun to Move@JC” is a 5-year pilot project co-created by The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and co-organised by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute. The Project was launched in September 2017. With the aid of school and family collaboration and state-of-the-art technology, the Project aims to develop a sustainable model that enhances primary students’ physical activity level, improving their efficacy and motivation in sports through creating systemic changes in their lifelong physical activity attitudes and habits. The Project serves 35 participating primary schools, reaching over 30,000 primary school students and their parents. In the long run, we hope the valuable experiences we can accumulate from this pilot could be further developed to facilitate the development of positive behavioural and psychosocial well-being of students in Hong Kong.