Long-term study identifies early predictors of sedentary behavior in children

June 20, 2012

Kids are more active if their TV time is restricted or they are involved in school sports clubs, among other associations, according to a study published June 20 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The authors, led by Mark Pearce of Newcastle University, reveal that children are not spending enough time being active and that girls are already becoming more sedentary than boys by the age of eight.

Using information from the Gateshead Millennium Study, which collected data from over 1,000 infants born between 1999-2000 and monitored them throughout their childhood the researchers showed a number of associations between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and body mass index in children. They found that the overall physical activity levels were low, with most children spending much less than the recommended hour per day doing moderate to vigorous physical activity, and that children of older fathers spent higher percentages of time in sedentary behavior.

Pearce explains, "Given the importance of physical activity to maintain good health, we know we need to get our kids moving more. 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."
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Citation: Pearce MS, Basterfield L, Mann KD, Parkinson KN, Adamson AJ, et al. (2012) Early Predictors of Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in 8 Year Old Children: The Gateshead Millennium Study. PLoS ONE 7(6): e37975. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037975

Financial Disclosure: The Gateshead Millennium Study was supported by a grant from the National Prevention Research Initiative (incorporating funding from British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research United Kingdom; Department of Health; Diabetes United Kingdom; Economic and Social Research Council; Food Standards Agency; Medical Research Council; Research and Development Office for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorates; Welsh Assembly Government and World Cancer Research Fund) and further funding from the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorates, grant number CZH/4/484. The cohort was first established with funding from the Henry Smith Charity and Sport Aiding Research in Kids (SPARKS) and followed up with grants from Gateshead National Health Service Trust Research & Development (NHS R & D), Northern and Yorkshire NHS R & D, and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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