Lowering Screen Time & Increasing Physical Activity Curbs Childhood Obesity

Lowering Screen Time & Increasing Physical Activity Curbs Childhood Obesity

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Highlights:
  • The alarming rise in the number of children who were overweight prompted the Canadian authorities to put together the 24 hour movement guidelines
  • A study conducted by Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that children who followed the guidelines had a lower risk of obesity
  • Children who followed all the three guidelines had lower adiposity and total fat
There are more than 42 million overweight children in the world and the numbers threaten to rise. A study conducted by a research team from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, found that when children were associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, they showed a significant reduction in body fat and BMI
Lowering Screen Time & Increasing Physical Activity Curbs Childhood Obesity

The study conducted by Pennington Biomedical Research Center's Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk and Dr. Amanda Staiano highlighted the importance of ensuring adequate physical activity among children.

Excess Weight

Overweight children are at a higher risk of obesity during adult hood; obesity is a well-known risk factor for metabolic syndromes like diabetes, cardiovascular syndrome and even cancer.

Children normally tend to respond to hunger cues and eat appropriate amounts so the risk of obesity is lower. However, changing lifestyle patterns over the years have resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of hours spent on physical activity and an increase in the consumption of unhealthy food like fast foods.

Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines

The rise in the number of overweight children and the health risks associated with excess body weight prompted the development of the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines. These are aimed at lowering sedentary behavior of children and to inculcate in them the need for adequate physical activity. The guidelines have been designed keeping healthy children in mind but could be adopted by children with disabilities after consultation with their physician.

The guidelines not only provide recommendations for children to carry out physical activity but also stipulate periods of rest. According to the guidelines:
  • Children should undertake a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on at least 5 days every week
  • Children should restrict TV viewing to less than 2 hours every day
  • Children between 5 to 13 years should sleep for at least 9 - 11 hours every night
  • Children between 14 - 18 years should sleep 8 - 10 hours every night
The study conducted by the research team from Pennington Biomedical Research Center was aimed at evaluating the association between implementing the guidelines and the level of adiposity among 357 white (170) and African American (187) children who were between 5 - 18 years.

The level of activity carried out by the children was determined using questionnaires. The height, weight and BMI of the children were measured and compared with data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Other measurements that were used include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for measuring the total amount of visceral fat (VAT) as well as the abdominal subcutaneous (SAT) fat. The Dual Energy X-ray Absorption (DXA) was used to measure the total fat mass.

The percentage of study participants who followed the guidelines were
  • 35% of children carried out the stipulated amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • 31% of children had the level of sedentary behavior that was provided in the guidelines
  • 52% of children adhered to the target for sleep duration
  • 27% of children did not adhere to the guidelines
  • 36%, 28%, and 8% of children were associated with physical activity, sedentary and sleep guidelines respectively
The study found that more number of white children followed the guidelines than African Americans.

Compared to children meeting none of the guidelines, the risk of obesity was
  • 89% lower among children who followed all the three guidelines.
  • 40% lower among children who followed 2 of 3 guidelines.
  • 24% lower among children who followed at least one of the three guidelines.
A significant association was found between reduced risk of obesity and following the guidelines, especially in terms of total fat mass and SAT mass. Children who followed the guidelines had lower BMI, SAT mass and total fat mass. An added incentive for children who followed all the three guidelines was that they had lower amounts of adiposity and lower odds of obesity.

The research team associated with the study stated that the guidelines tailored multiple lifestyle interventions and this was critical for lowering the levels of obesity among children.

The 24 Hours Guidelines that were provided were aimed at ensuring adequate sleep, altering indoor sedentary screen time into outdoor time and trading light physical activity for moderate to vigorous physical activity. These guidelines will negate the effect of the poor lifestyle choices adopted by young kids today.

References:
  1. Obesity in children - (https:medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007508.htm)
  2. Canada releases world's first 24-hour movement behaviour guidelines for children and youth - (http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2016/06/17/canada-releases-worlds-first-24-hour-movement-behaviour-guidelines-for-children-and-youth/)


Source: Medindia

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