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Amid Rising Childhood Obesity, Preschoolers Found To Be Inactive

Date:
February 15, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A study of children enrolled at 24 community-based preschool programs finds that preschoolers are inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. The study also finds that teachers very rarely encourage children to be more physically active. Based on these findings, there may be more of a need for preschool teachers to organize, model and encourage physical activity.

The rate of childhood obesity has risen significantly in the United States, with many children becoming overweight at younger ages. At the same time, the number of preschoolers in center-based programs is also on the rise. Now a new study finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, preschoolers don't move around a lot, even when they're playing outside.

The study is by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of South Carolina (USC), Michigan State University, and East Carolina University and led by Professor Russell R. Pate (at USC).

Using information from the Children's Activity and Movement in Preschools Study (CHAMPS), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the researchers looked at 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds enrolled in 24 community-based preschool programs.

They found that the preschoolers were inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. Even when they played outside, a time when children are expected to move around, 56 percent of their activities were sedentary.

Furthermore, teachers very rarely encouraged the children to be physically active. But when balls and other items were made available, especially outside, and when they had open spaces in which to play, the children were more likely to be active.

"The low levels of children's activity and the lack of adult encouragement point to a need for teachers to organize, model, and encourage physical activity," according to William H. Brown, professor in the College of Education at USC and the study's lead author. "Because children's health and physical well-being are an important part of development, their physical activity needs to be increased in order to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly for preschoolers who are growing up in low-income families and who are at greater risk for poor health outcomes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brown, WH. Social and Environmental Factors Associated with Preschoolers' Non-sedentary Physical Activity. Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 1

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Amid Rising Childhood Obesity, Preschoolers Found To Be Inactive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081305.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, February 15). Amid Rising Childhood Obesity, Preschoolers Found To Be Inactive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081305.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Amid Rising Childhood Obesity, Preschoolers Found To Be Inactive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081305.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

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