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UK guidelines on kids’ physical activity levels need rethinking

UK guidelines on kids’ physical activity levels need rethinking

UK guidelines on how much physical activity children need to boost their health and stave off obesity need to be revised, conclude researchers in a study published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The researchers base their findings on the long-term monitoring of 113 boys and 99 girls from 54 different schools, all of whom were five years old when the study started.

The results showed that there was a wide range of physical activity among children, some spending as little as 10 minutes a day at the recommended intensity while others were spending over 90 minutes a day.

UK guidelines recommend that children are moderately physically active for at least an hour every day, in a bid to stave off obesity and its attendant health risks.

Around 42% of boys but only 11% of girls met the 60 minute guideline.

The study showed no difference in weight (BMI) change between those who did and did not meet the guidelines. But both boys and girls who met the guidelines showed progressive improvement in their predictive health indicators, while those who did not showed a progressive deterioration.

The authors suggest that the measure used to gauge impact may simply be too crude, and that applying the same guideline to both sexes may not be appropriate: "Children who do more exercise clearly benefit, but we still have no idea how to encourage the 60% of boys and 90% of girls who do not meet the deadline to do more."

BMJ

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