Study suggests that children of today are becoming less and less active

Children are becoming less active every year

  • Obese children are more at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and heart problems

The University of Strathclyde looked at 50 different studies that covered a total of 22,000 children and concluded that children of different ages worldwide are seeing a decline in their physical activity. This is bad for children as this can expose them to potential risks.

Children’s physical activity fell steadily the most when they reached the age of 4 or 5 years old.

Children became less and less active by 3 to 4 minutes each year but stayed at a high level during the holidays and weekends.

“Daily activity fell by three to four minutes each year overall, although it remained higher at weekends and on holidays.”

Health Professor John Reilly of the Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences says that children will see benefits in bone health, brain development and learning, levels of body fat, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and sleep if they are more involved in performing physical activities.

Reilly added that not enough children are getting the physical requirements that they need in order for them to get these health benefits.

“However, despite these many important health benefits, only a minority of children and adolescents meet the recommended level of physical activity,”.

Reilly emphasized that policymakers still believe that girls are more likely to see a decline in physical activity until adolescence, which in turn makes them promote physical activities focused on little girls.

“As a result, policies and practices aimed at promoting activity have focused on adolescent girls, who are seen as high risk group of low and declining physical activity. Our study indicates that, while the relative decline is greater among girls, there is no one high risk group.”

This is simply not true, since  “all children face high risk and physical activity needs to be promoted to them and their parents before they even start school,” according to Reilly.

Reilly admits that they have not looked at other countries, but is sure that the decline in physical activity in children should be taken more seriously.

“While we found a lack of studies covering developing countries, our findings do appear to bear out the conclusions of previous research and suggest that this is a worldwide problem.”.

Bristol University also did a similar study about children’s physical activity. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 are 17 are becoming 17 minutes less active every year.

2,132 children from 57 schools across the South West of England between 2012 and 2018 were involved in the study.

61% of children in year number 1 did at least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day.

The results were surprising when the study reached year 6, as only 41% of the children performed MVPA a day.

Girls also had alarming results, as only 28% of them did MVPA when they reached primary school when 58% of them were doing it initially.

“We saw marked differences in physical activity levels between boys and girls, with girls engaging in less MVPA and more sedentary time on both weekdays and weekends than boys at age six.

“Girls’ MVPA also declined at a faster rate, so that the gap between boys and girls increases between ages 6 and 11,” the study added.

The study’s lead researcher Professor Russell Jago says that the results do not promote children to exercise more, but to make them more active.

“This isn’t about getting children to exercise more, but rather maintaining their activity levels. Developing early intervention strategies that help children retain activity levels could include after-school physical activity programs, focusing on participation and enjoyment in addition to popular sports—and a greater emphasis on promoting weekend activities.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation says that a good amount of children in the UK are overweight or obese.

“Almost a third of children in the UK weigh more than they should, while one in four primary school children is not meeting the recommended levels of exercise.”

Pearson also emphasized the effects of being obese, which are apparent.

“We know that children living with obesity are more likely to become obese adults—putting them at increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, later in life.”

Pearson also said that food restriction will help children in the long run.

“Staying active must be combined with policies that help families make healthy and informed choices, such as a 21:00 watershed on junk food marketing and restricting the promotion of unhealthy foods.”

The World Health Organization conducted a survey previously. They found that most children from the age of 11 to 17 do not meet the recommended one hour of physical activity a day.

Written by Charles Teves

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