Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Children In UK Estimated To Be More Active Than They Actually Are

“The physical activity levels of children in the United Kingdom have been enormously overestimated, according to an article released on September 9, 2008 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, one of the BMJ Specialty journals. UK public health policy and practice is generally informed by annual health survey data. However, according to the authors of this article, this survey has not yet been validated. These figures have previously indicated that the population was generally very physically active, and that physical activity in children has increased over the past several years. One point of the survey, that could lead to errors, is that the information about children relies heavily on parent-supplied reporting. In maintaining proper health and preventing obesity and other illnesses later in life, it is recommended that children engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. Such physical activities might include brisk walking, running, or sports. To examine the survey's accuracy and reliability, researchers examined 130 children between the ages of 6 and 7 over the course of one week. The actual levels of physical activity were assessed using a portable monitoring and recording device (an accelerometer) which each carried on a waist belt. These readings were compared with information supplied by parents using the annual Health Survey for England. Parents reported that their children were moderately vigorously physically active for about 146 minutes a day. The accelerometer readings, however, indicated that this figure was 24 minutes per day. Boys generally had 26 minutes and girls had 22 minutes. According to the survey reports, 83% of boys and 56% of girls achieved the recommended daily levels of moderate to vigorous exercise. However, according to the accelerometer, showed only 3% of boys and 3% of girls actually achieved this level.”

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