Babies and children * Young people * Healthy living

Parents vastly overestimate exercise their children take

Parents vastly overestimate exercise their children take Offspring prefer TV, internet

Parents in England vastly underestimate how much their children exercise, according to new research.

They believe their children get on average 271 minutes of exercise daily, more than four times the recommended guidelines, and more than eight times the amount they’re actually doing.

In fact, only 33% of boys and 21% of girls aged four to 15 get the recommended 60 active minutes per day, according to a study conducted by the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Worcester.

The study involved 40 children aged nine and ten who wore an accelerometer (a gadget that measures movement) for two weeks. They also completed questionnaires to account for their activities over the same time.

The study found that on average the children got only 33 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily, or half the recommended amount.

They spent double that time, 67 minutes daily, sitting and watching television, 21 minutes playing computer games, and 17 minutes surfing the web.

The government is keen to address the sedentary lifestyle of children across the land and is launching a summer campaign to get them to exercise.

Commenting on the data and the upcoming summer campaign, Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "If we are going to turn around the life chances of our children it's important parents understand why being the right weight matters so much for their children.

"Children who are overweight could face serious health problems later in life. These problems impact hugely on a person's quality of life.

"But it isn't just about eating better, children should also be getting their hours’ worth of being active every day."

The findings are published at the outset of National Childhood Obesity Week.

The campaign, which is run by Change4Life, is called ‘The Really Big Summer Adventure’, and will launch mid-July.

This article was published on Mon 4 July 2011

Image © Marzanna Syncerz -

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