Physical Activity Levels Among UK Kids Hugely Overestimated

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 9 2008 6:16 PM

The physical activity levels of children have been overestimated, with actual levels likely to be around six times lower, says a UK study.

Annual health survey data showed that the UK population takes a lot of exercise, and that children have been increasingly physically active over the past few years.

In a bid to assess the accuracy, the research team monitored the physical activity levels in 130 children aged between 6 and 7 years over one week, wit the help of a portable recording device (accelerometer) carried on a waist belt.

They compared the readings with the information supplied by their parents, using the Health Survey for England annual questionnaire. It is recommended that children engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, such as brisk walking, running, and sports.

In the survey the parents said that their children were moderately to vigorously physically active for an average of 146 minutes a day.

However, the accelerometer showed that the figures were actually 24 minutes a day, with boys managing 26 minutes and girls 22.

The survey revealed that 83pct of boys and 56pct of girls complied with the recommended daily amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

But the accelerometer showed that only 3 percent of boys and 2 percent of girls actually did so.

But the accelerometer showed that only 3 percent of boys and 2 percent of girls actually did so.

"Marked improvements in surveillance of physical activity will be necessary in order to meet the major public health challenges of the 21st century, particularly where physical activity has been implicated in the aetiology of diseases, such as obesity and related disorders," said the authors.

The research is published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.