Long-term study identifies early predictors of sedentary behavior in children

June 20th, 2012 in Health /

In work published in the open access journal PLoS ONE today, more than 500 8 to 10-year-olds wore activity monitors providing Newcastle University and University of Strathclyde researchers with a very accurate picture of how little time children spent being physically active.

They were monitored for a range of actions from moving around, climbing stairs to running, and skipping.

Researchers found:

Newcastle University's Dr Mark Pearce led this study funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative. He said: "Given the importance of physical activity in maintaining good health, we know we need to get our kids more active. What we hadn't known until now is how young we need to be catching them, or the reasons that lay behind their lack of activity.

"Already at the age of eight, we are seeing girls being less active than boys. This is something which we know then gets worse as they approach their .

"One of the important things is that most girls don't see sport as cool. We need to be tackling these issues earlier by encouraging girls to exercise, by providing a wider range of opportunities than are currently on offer and by ensuring they see positive female role models, particularly in the media."

As to why the children of older fathers were found to be less active, Dr Pearce said: "We think there may be a variety of explanations for this such as older fathers reaching more senior posts and having to work longer hours or maybe seeing themselves in a more traditional role so spend less time in active play with their children."

Professor John Reilly from the University of Strathclyde, one of the researchers involved in this study said: "There is an urgent need for interventions, at home and at school, which will help primary school children become more physically active."

In the Gateshead Millennium Study, 508 wore activity monitors for at least three days and their movement was registered which meant their activity levels were objectively measured. The data were then related to an accompanying questionnaire and data collected previously in this study which has been on-going since birth.

Findings included that the average daily percentage of time spent doing moderate or vigorous was just 4.1%. Girls, on average spent 2.5% less of their day doing activity.

More information: Pearce MS, Basterfield L, Mann KD, Parkinson KN, Adamson AJ, et al. (2012) Early Predictors of Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in 8 Year Old Children: The Gateshead Millennium Study. PLoS ONE 7(6): e37975. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037975

Provided by Newcastle University

"Long-term study identifies early predictors of sedentary behavior in children." June 20th, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-06-long-term-early-predictors-sedentary-behavior.html