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Many Kids Not Meeting Physical Activity Goals
A minority of American children simultaneously met recommendations regarding daily physical activity and minimization of "screen time", according to the NHANES survery.
By Todd Neale, MedPage Today
Medically Reviewed by F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE
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MONDAY, Jan. 7, 2013 (MedPage Today) —Only two out of five U.S. children in elementary school met both the physical activity and screen-time recommendations from the federal government and the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found.
Although 70 percent of children were getting at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day and 54 percent were sitting in front of a screen for no more than 2 hours a day, only 38 percent met both criteria, according to Tala Fakhouri, PhD, MPH, of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues.
Remaining consistent with one recommendation did not necessarily predict meeting the other recommendation, the researchers reported online inJAMA Pediatrics.
"These findings support the distinct recommendations for screen-time viewing and physical activity by the American Academy of Pediatrics and may inform interventions designed to prevent childhood obesity, such as the First Lady Michelle Obama's program to end childhood obesity within a generation (i.e., the Let's Move! initiative)," the authors wrote.
Fakhouri and colleagues examined cross-sectional data on 1,218 children ages 6 to 11 from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A proxy, usually a parent, reported how much each child exercised and how much time each child spent watching television, playing video games, or using a computer. They also looked at demographic information, including an income measurement called the family income to poverty level ratio (FIPR).
There were fewer demographic differences in the likelihood of meeting the screen-time recommendation. Older children, non-Hispanic blacks, and obese children were less likely to have 2 or fewer hours of screen-time each day compared with their respective comparators.
Hispanics, who were less likely than non-Hispanic whites to meet the physical activity recommendation, were more likely to meet the screen-time recommendation, which suggests "that screen-time viewing and physical activity may be separate constructs and that low levels of screen-time viewing do not necessarily predict higher levels of physical activity."
Indeed, the odds of meeting the physical activity recommendation did not differ between the children who did or did not meet the screen-time recommendation.
There were even fewer demographic differences in the likelihood of meeting both recommendations at the same time, which was significantly lower only in the children who were older and obese.
One issue with the findings pointed out by the researchers is that in the 2009-2010 NHANES, physical activity was measured only through proxy report, which is subject to social desirability bias and can be influenced by the amount of time the parent spends with the child.
Although activity can be objectively measured with accelerometers, those too have some potential problems involving cutoff values, sampling intervals, inadequate capture of certain activities, and expense.
Video: SMART Goals: Physical Activity (Family Toolkit)
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