Only one fifth of parents know how much exercise kids need, CSP survey shows
Do you have difficulty prising your children away from their computer screens, giving them the chance to get enough exercise each day and do you tussle over healthy eating? Or do your kids love exercise but never get enough time or opportunity to enjoy it? Conscious of the challenges that many parents face on a daily basis, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and the British Dietetic Association (BDA) are joining forces to launch a joint campaign 'Move for Health Kids' to get children moving more – to prevent obesity and help improve their health both at home and at school.
Thirty-five per cent of parents think that their children (aged between 3 and 17) don't get enough exercise and 29 per cent of parents of 6-11 year olds do not think their children get sufficient exercise. The problem is compounded by confusion about how much physical activity youngsters should be doing.
Though children need an hour's exercise every day 57 per cent of parents of primary age children (6 to 11 year olds) think their children need less exercise than they do with 31 per cent incorrectly thinking the recommended amount was only 30 minutes a day. Only 21 per cent of parents knew the correct amount was 60 minutes a day, five times a week.
On average, 6 – 11 year olds spend 13.6 hours a week on less active pursuits such as surfing the internet, video games, reading and watching television (1.94 hours a day).
The CSP and the BDA, who are teaming up for the first time today, Wednesday 23 September, to launch `Move for Health Kids' will be using the campaign to urge families and schools to maximise opportunities for healthy exercise and diet every day.
Despite figures showing a third of children are currently overweight or obese and numerous warnings over the health consequences, the survey commissioned by the CSP has found that many children are still not getting enough regular exercise and this say the campaigners, is jeopardising their future health. In addition the BDA say obesity in children can be due to insufficient physical activity and to eating excessive amounts of low quality food (energy dense but low in essential nutrients), often grazing throughout the day. Dietitians encourage families to plan nutritious meals and keep treats for children to non-food treats, such as doing something active with their parents.
A new leaflet by the CSP and the BDA 'Fit for the Future' urges parents to prioritise a healthy lifestyle for their family and suggests ideas to increase physical activity each day and to encourage healthier choices when it comes to meals, snacks and drinks. The leaflet recognises that with the time pressures of a typical school day, it can be difficult to ensure children get sufficient exercise and plan healthy meals and snacks. But with simple fun ideas from breakfast till bedtime, the leaflet shows parents and teachers how to find opportunities for exercise and healthy eating.
Healthy School Days
As part of 'Move for Health Kids' the CSP and BDA will be running a series of healthy school days in many primary schools around the UK throughout September. Teams of chartered physiotherapists and dieticians will visit schools to provide advice on exercise, movement and nutrition, whilst also providing tips for parents on how to make their families fitter.
Bridget Hurley, 'Move for Health' project lead at the CSP and a chartered physiotherapist said: "We hope that sharing our expertise in a friendly and fun environment will encourage kids to increase their physical activity, choose healthier food options and shape good habits to carry through their lives."
Jessica Williams, of the British Dietetic Association's Paediatric Specialist Group said: "We know that good nutrition in childhood gives children the best start in life. 'Move for Health Kids' is an opportunity for us to really highlight how easy it can be to make small changes and encourage children and their families to make better healthier food choices and increase their activity levels."
And professionals who currently work in schools indicate that this joined-up approach may also have wider benefits. Linda Beckett, a Childhood Obesity Physiotherapist, working in Tower Hamlets, said: "Evidence shows a combination of regular physical activity and a healthy balanced diet has a positive impact on increasing concentration, mental cognition and academic performance. Children who follow a healthy lifestyle exhibit better behaviour and have higher levels of self esteem."
Visit www.csp.org.uk/moveforhealth for free 'Move for Health' advice and leaflets.