Children and adolescents are accumulating up to eight hours of sitting on a daily basis, research to be presented at Australia’s paramount sports medicine, sports science, sports injury prevention and physical activity promotion conference, be active2012 will show (October 31- November 3, Sydney).
Research to be presented by Dr Dale Esliger from Loughborough University has found that children accumulate 4.5 hours of sedentary time each day between the ages of three to six years, after which there is a reasonably steady increase through to 18 years of age. By age 10 children are accumulating six hours a day, and by the time they reach age 17-18 they are at nearly eight hours. The increase in sedentary time is steepest between the ages of 11-13 years.
“Methods of counteracting the incline need to be developed, based upon an improved understanding of this phenomenon and its causes”, said Dr Esliger.
Overcoming children’s sedentary levels will be a focus of the be active 2012 conference, with numerous presentations looking at how to reduce sitting and inactivity within the home and school settings.
Dr Andrew Atkin from the UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research said there are many factors at home and in the family that can influence sedentary time.
“We found that the home setting is an important sphere of influence on changes in the sedentary behaviour of children. For example, children of different social class have different sedentary time patterns. Parental rules and their own sedentary behaviour habits can also be influential,” said Dr Atkin.
“Intervention strategies that aim to reduce parent’s weekend screen-time, increase family participation in sports and recreation (for boys) and promote freedom to play outside (for girls) may contribute towards preventing the increase in sedentary time as children get older,” said Dr Atkin.
Further research to be presented highlights that health promotion interventions should promote strategies to limit electronic media equipment in the home including in children’s bedrooms. TV limiting devices and active video games show some promise for decreasing sedentary screen time and increasing children’s activity at home.
Dr Amanda Staiano from Pennington Biomedical Research Center said having a television in the bedroom was associated with 2.7 greater odds of elevated cardiometabolic risk among youth.
“Television in the bedroom and watching more than two hours a day are associated with greater odds of elevated waist circumference. Reduced television viewing could protect our youth,” said Dr Staiano.
Another way to encourage physical activity is by parents playing a key role in providing physical activity opportunities for their children, as well as adopting attitudes, parenting practices and behaviours that influence physical activity behaviours.
“The importance of the family in influencing the physical activity behaviours of children is well established. Emerging evidence has highlighted the importance of fathers as role models and facilitators of physical activity for their children.
“At the be active 2012 conference our findings will show that targeting and improving a father’s physical activity-related parenting practice may be a promising strategy to improve children’s physical activity levels,” said Adam Lloyd from the University of Newcastle who will present the Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids project.
Professor Leon Straker from Curtin University said the school setting also presents as an opportunity to reduce sedentariness and enhance physical activity, yet concerns have been realised that children may be more sedentary at school.
“Within our study, children were more sedentary when at school, suggesting we are not teaching children good life habits,” said Professor Straker.
Associate Professor Erica Hinckson from Auckland University of Technology says redesigning the school environment may encourage children to move more.