Danish kids among the fittest in the world: study

In a study comparing the fitness levels of children in 50 different nations, Danish kids came near the very top.

Danish kids among the fittest in the world: study
The study compared kids' 20m shuttle run times. Photo: Mikkel Zibrandtsen/Flickr
Denmark ranked sixth in a study conducted by the University of North Dakota (UND) and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario that examined the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth. The study focused on the so-called beep test, a 20-metre shuttle run that is among the most commonly used international fitness indicators. 
Some 1.1 million kids between the ages of nine and 17 had their beep test results analyzed to draw conclusions about children’s fitness levels in the 50 countries examined. 
“If all the kids in the world were to line up for a race, the average Danish child would finish at the front of the pack, placed sixth out of 50,” Grant Tomkinson, the senior author of the study, told The Local. 
Tomkinson, an associate professor of kinesiology at the UND College of Education and Human Development, said that the children’s aerobic fitness results are “very insightful to overall population health” but acknowledged that the results don’t necessarily paint a complete picture. 
“We didn’t have good international data on diet,” he said. “Because we examined between-country differences in fitness we were interested in broad socio-economic correlates. Obesity was a weak negative correlate with fitness in developed countries (fatter countries fared worse), climate was a strong positive correlate in developed countries (hotter countries fared better), and income inequality was a strong negative correlate in developed countries (more equal countries fared better).”
Denmark was topped in the list by Tanzania, Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Japan. The United States placed near the very bottom at number 47 out of 50.
Tomkinson said that the strong overall performance of Nordic countries was interesting from an American point of view “because we can always learn from countries with fit kids”. 
“We know that Scandinavian countries have very good physical activity infrastructure and government strategies and investments, as does the US, but poor overall physical activity levels, also like the US, despite having better participation rates in organized sport and active transportation like cycling or walking to and from school than the US,” he told The Local. 
“They are also leaner that US kids which means it is easier for them to move their body through space and run over long distances,” he added. 
The results of the study, which Tomkinson said is the largest of its kind, were recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.