Researchers at the Newcastle University have revealed that children younger than eight years need to be targeted to combat the wide-spreading menace of childhood obesity.
It is well known that childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades with the increasing number of obese children. This sudden increase is due to the change in dietary habits and lifestyle behaviors.
AdvertisementObesity, especially in children, raises various health concerns. It predisposes them to several health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, heart diseases, sleep apnea, bone and joint diseases and psychological problems.
Obese children become obese adults and this puts them at a risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, CVD, osteoarthritis and even cancer.
The study has revealed that children are not adequately active and that girls at the age of eight have a tendency to become more sedentary than boys of the same age.
In a study published in†PLoS ONE†June 21, more than 508 eight to ten-year-olds were monitored by the researchers of Newcastle University and University of Strathclyde. Each child studied wore an advanced pedometer, which allowed the researchers to monitor them for a range of activities such as running, skipping and playing games. This greatly helped the investigators to deduce that the children actually spent very little time being active.
It was found that the subjects spent only 4% of their time doing physical activities of moderate to vigorous intensity. This roughly accounts to about 20 minutes per day while the recommended time is 60 minutes. Girls hardly spend more than 2.5% of their day, on an average, being active.
It is a known fact that girls at the secondary school level are much less active when compared to boys of the same age, but this study has revealed that the sedentary phase in them is brought on much earlier.
Dr Mark Pearce of Newcastle University who led this study said, "Given the importance of physical activity in maintaining good health, we know we need to get our kids to be 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 that gets worse as they approach their teenage years."
According to Pearce most girls see sports as uncool. Therefore, they need to be encouraged to be active and exercise regularly by providing them with better opportunities and also by providing them with better female role models.
Children of older fathers were also found to be less active. Dr Pearce explains, "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 of the University of Strathclyde, believes that there is an immediate need for interventions, both at home and at school, which will help primary school children become more active, physically.
The present study also revealed that the progeny of parents, who restricted their children watching television, were less active. It could be because the children were kept away from watching people who were very active (like sports persons), thereby missing a chance to emulate or be motivated by them.
Hence there is a need for both the parents and the school authorities to motivate the children to be more active, and come up with better measures to manage obesity that is growing each day all over the world.
Reference: PLoS ONE 2012.