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Reality check on child fitness

Tuesday November 24th, 2009

School childrenBritish families are out of touch with reality when it comes to the fitness of children, campaigners claimed yesterday.

Most parents think their children are active enough - but barely ten per cent of children undertake enough daily exercise, according to the British Heart Foundation.

The BHF report, "Couch Kids", says children should be physically active for at least an hour a day - but just 11 per cent achieve this.

Meanwhile, it found, 71 per cent of parents think their children are active enough.

The new findings deal a blow to government hopes that it has turned the tide on childhood obesity. The BHF said there had been no increase in childhood activity levels in ten years.

Dr Mike Knapton, BHF associate medical director, said: "Mums and dads need to take off the blinkers about how active kids need to be in order to keep their hearts healthy.

"Kids need to get moving more, yet we?ve been standing still for the last decade. Children aren?t really any more active than they were ten years ago.

"Parents have such an important role in helping and encouraging their kids to be more active by building exercise into their every day lives - whether that's taking part in team sports, playing outside with their friends or walking to school."

The BHF called on schools to do their best to ensure children are physically active throughout the day.

And, it said, the government should publish consistent guidelines on activity.

Some 940 parents were questioned using an on-line survey for the research.

* A second study yesterday provided reassurance that smoking bans do not lead to more smoking in the home in front of children.

Researchers studied some 3,500 primary school children in Wales and found no evidence of increased exposure to nicotine.

However Dr Jo Holliday, of Cardiff University, warned that nearly 40 per cent of Welsh children remained exposed to dangerous levels of cigarette smoke.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Changes in child exposure to secondhand smoke after implementation of smoke-free legislation in Wales: a repeated cross-sectional study Jo C Holliday, Graham F Moore and Laurence AR Moore BMC Public Health (in press)

Tags: Child Health | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Fitness | Heart Health | UK News

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