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Children with weight issues do little exercise, spend lots of time on screens

Children with weight issues do little exercise, spend lots of time on screens
February 9, 2017

A new University of Auckland study shows that physical activity levels are low among children and teenagers struggling with weight issues while their screen time was high.

Finding that physical activity was much lower than national averages, and the vast majority of New Zealand children and teenagers didn’t meet physical activity guidelines, the study found that a third spent more than three hours a day outside of school hours watching TV or other screens.

The 239 children in the study were assessed when they enrolled in a community-based 12-month intervention programme called Whānau Pakari. Aged four to 16 years, the participants had BMIs in the clinically overweight or obese range, and many had weight-related health problems.

Māori and Pakeha each made up 45% of the group, with the remaining 10% from other ethnicities.

Researchers found:

• Moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise was low, with a daily average of 39 minutes compared to 105 minutes in a national survey
• Only a minority (19%) met national physical activity guidelines of at least one hour of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per day
• Fitness was lower than national averages
• Average screen time was over 2½ hours per day outside of school hours
• Over a third (34%) had over three hours of screen time outside of school hours

The study was a collaboration between the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, Taranaki District Health Board, and Sport Taranaki, with funding from the Health Research Council.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Yvonne Anderson, Liggins Institute researcher, Taranaki paediatrician and co-author of the study, stated “this study highlighted that physical activity in obese children is low.

“This, combined with high screen times, is of concern. We already knew from a past study that almost half of the children have a television or some form of device in their bedrooms, and these children reported having more difficulty getting to sleep than those without devices in the bedroom.”

Researchers also found that as children got older, physical activity decreased with Dr Anderson explaining “the recommended screen time is less than two hours per day outside of school hours, and no screen time for children under the age of two. Recommended physical activity is one hour of moderate to vigorous-intensity ‘huff and puff’ activity per day. Many obese children are not meeting these guidelines.

Dr Anderson sees that challenging obesity is a society-wide issue, adding “we all need to work together to ensure children have access to physical activities and environments to undertake these activities in their everyday lives.

“We need to be role models for our children. As our lives get increasingly filled with technology, we need to unplug and get active with our children.”

Sport Taranaki Chief Executive Howie Tamati commented “we at Sport Taranaki are critically aware that children and teenagers are becoming more sedentary and doing little exercise.

“It is important that as parents, caregivers and people in the community, we encourage and support our children and teenagers to increase their physical activity levels and to give them opportunities to find ways to enjoy being active. In this way we are assisting them to establish healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.”

Nationally, an estimated 85,000 children aged two to 14 years are obese, and about 4,500 in Taranaki, according to the New Zealand Health Survey.

Whānau Pakari means ‘Healthy self-assured whānau who are fully active’. The programme, which is still running, involves regular home visits and support from a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals to help whānau make healthy lifestyle changes.

For more information go to www.auckland.ac.nz

8th February 2017 - ESSA CONCERN OVER FALLING FITNESS LEVELS AMONG AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN

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3rd April 2016 - NEW ZEALAND WELLNESS EXPERTS CALL FOR SUGAR TAX

29th January 2016 - CHILDHOOD OBESITY RATES TO SOAR WITHOUT URGENT GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION 

28th December 2015 - PARENTS CONCERNED OVER CHILDREN’S EXCESSIVE SCREEN TIME

5th December 2015 - AUSTRALIAN SPORTS COMMISSION SURVEY AIMS TO DRIVE FUTURE SPORT AND RECREATION POLICY

21st October 2015 - NEW ZEALAND PLAN TO REDUCE CHILDHOOD OBESITY

10th September 2015 - MARAE INNOVATOR NAMED MAORI PUBLIC HEALTH CHAMPION FOR 2015

24th June 2015 - TACKLING OBESITY THROUGH NEW ZEALAND’S RUGBY CLUBS


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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

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