Amid rising childhood obesity, preschoolers found to be inactive

February 6, 2009,

The rate of childhood obesity has risen significantly in the United States, with many children becoming overweight at younger ages. At the same time, the number of preschoolers in center-based programs is also on the rise. Now a new study finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, preschoolers don't move around a lot, even when they're playing outside.

The study, by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of South Carolina (USC), Michigan State University, and East Carolina University and led by Professor Russell R. Pate (at USC), is published in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

Using information from the Children's Activity and Movement in Preschools Study (CHAMPS), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the researchers looked at 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds enrolled in 24 community-based preschool programs.

They found that the preschoolers were inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. Even when they played outside, a time when children are expected to move around, 56 percent of their activities were sedentary.

Furthermore, teachers very rarely encouraged the children to be physically active. But when balls and other items were made available, especially outside, and when they had open spaces in which to play, the children were more likely to be active.

"The low levels of children's activity and the lack of adult encouragement point to a need for teachers to organize, model, and encourage physical activity," according to William H. Brown, professor in the College of Education at USC and the study's lead author. "Because children's health and physical well-being are an important part of development, their physical activity needs to be increased in order to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly for preschoolers who are growing up in low-income families and who are at greater risk for poor health outcomes."

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Explore further: 'We could do a better job': U of T expert on new guidelines about physical activity for kids under four

Related Stories

'We could do a better job': U of T expert on new guidelines about physical activity for kids under four

November 23, 2017
Experts have been saying for decades that Canadians are in the midst of an inactivity crisis. A new report released this week looks at the lives of babies and toddlers and concludes that they are far too sedentary and get ...

Keeping harsh punishment in check helps kids with ADHD, study finds

November 7, 2017
Cutting back on yelling, criticism and other harsh parenting approaches, including physical punishment, has the power to calm children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study.

Encouraging risk-taking in children may reduce the prevalence of childhood anxiety

December 13, 2017
A new international study suggests that parents who employ challenging parent behavioural (CPB) methods – active physical and verbal behaviours that encourage children to push their limits – are likely protecting their ...

Child-care facilities can do more to promote healthy eating and physical activity among preschoolers

August 26, 2011
Eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime can develop at an early age. As the use of preschool child care increases and the prevalence of childhood obesity is at an all-time high, the opportunity to positively impact ...

Researchers aim to boost physical activity in preschoolers

August 8, 2016
The University of Western Australia is teaming up with partners in the early education and care sector to find ways to improve young's children's physical activity, health and development.

Get them while they are young, call for closer examination of preschooler physical activity levels

February 20, 2012
Australian researchers need to investigate the specific physical activity levels required by preschoolers to encourage better exercise habits later in life, academics argue.

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.