More than half of US children are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity every week, a new study has found.
Researchers say only five percent of children are meeting the goal of 60 minutes per day or 420 minutes per week.
Additionally, kids who are getting the recommended amount are exercising longer over fewer days, increasing the risk of injury and burnout.
The team, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio, hopes the findings encourage doctors to monitor their young patients more closely and provide ‘exercise prescriptions’ to ensure they remain healthy.
A new study has found more than half of US children are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity every week (file image)
For the study, the team looked at more than 7,800 children between ages five and 18 who attended outpatient pediatric sports medicine clinics over a three-year period.
Children were considered active if they got 60 minutes of activity per day or 420 minutes of activity per week, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
The results showed that 49.6 percent of children were not active enough and five percent had no physical activity.
Just 5.2 percent of children met the daily recommended goals.
Additionally, boys were averaging 61 more minutes of physical activity per week than girls.
Researchers also found that boys were 39 percent more likely to meet the 420 recommended minutes per week than girls.
OBESE CHILDREN PERFORM WORSE IN SCHOOL
Obese children perform worse in school and have bad coping skills, a new study has found.
Researchers analyzed answers from nearly 23,000 parents and caregivers of children between ages 10 and 17 from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health.
The team, from Brown University in Rhode Island, looked at the association between body mass index (BMI) and five ‘flourishing’ markers.
‘Flourishing’ is a rather new term that refers to a child’s overall well-being, learning and resilience.
The markers included an interest in learning new things, finishing tasks that are started, staying calm when faced with a challenge, caring about doing well in school, and finishing homework.
Results showed that 27.5 percent of obese children, defined as having a BMI in the 95th percentile, had all five markers.
In comparison, 36.5 percent of overweight children, with a BMI in the 85th percentile, had all five markers, as did 39 percent of kids with a normal BMI.
Lead author Dr Natasha Gill, of the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said that the findings show obese children may be less likely to develop an interest in learning and healthy relationship.
‘Individual markers of flourishing have been shown to stay the same over time like a person’s personality, so it may be important to monitor these markers in childhood to ensure optimal development into adulthood,’ she said.
‘Exercise should be used as a vital sign of health,’ said abstract presenter Julie Young, a research assistant in the Division of Pediatric Sports Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
‘There are numerous advantages of physical activity. Asking these questions can open the door for clinicians to have important conversations with families on how to ensure children get these benefits.’
The team also found that physical activity significantly increased as the children got older.
While elementary school children participated in 248 to 342 minutes of activity per week, high school children participated in 270 to 431 minutes per week.
Physical activity in early childhood is not only important for developing motor skills, but it can also create behaviors that follow children throughout their lives.
Several studies have shown that kids who don’t exercise have weaker muscles and bones than children who get regular exercise.
Perhaps the greatest risk of lack of exercise is a child being overweight or obese.
The rate of childhood obesity has tripled since the 1970s, affecting one in five children in the US and 14 percent of those between ages two and four years old, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the US, topping drug abuse and smoking.
Being obese at such as young age can increase the risk of several health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes and stroke, as well as elevating the risk for obesity in adulthood.
‘Opportunities for physical activity are shrinking – less free play and decreased physical education in schools,’ said Dr Amy Valasek, a physician for Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine.
‘But by asking simple questions about daily activity, clinicians can counsel and provide an exercise prescription for healthy physical activity.’
The abstract will be presented on Saturday, November 3 at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.