7-year olds at risk of poor health

stick_figure_watching_tv_pc_1600_wht_3837Half of seven-year old children spend six hours a day sitting down. Girls are worse than boys as they are only 38% as active as they should be compared to 63% of boys.

Children from Asian backgrounds are particularly inactive. The study, carried out before last year’s Olympic games byUniversity College London’s Institute for Child Health, looked at 6,500 children in the Millennium Cohort study born between 2000 and 2002. The children wore movement monitors for a week only taking them off when they were washing or sleeping.

On average the children took 10,229 steps a day but spent  6.4 hrs in sedentary activities such as lessons or watching TV and only half (51%) got the recommended level of activity.

In Bangladeshi households however this fell to 34% and it was even less for children on Indian origin who only managed 8,699 steps a day. In Northern Ireland 43% of children got enough exercise and in Scotland 53%.

There is clearly a big gender gap in activity levels and a spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum said the findings helped to explain why a third of children were obese or overweight by the time they left primary school.

And Professor Mitch Blair from the Royal College of Paediatrics said that children should be out playing not sitting in front of the television.

All the experts agree that children need to be more active if they are to have healthy and productive lives later in life.

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