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Getting Kids Up Off the Couch: Active Living Research Report, Recommendations

Catherine is a senior communications professional helping social change organizations tell their story in powerful ways. She has expertise in public health, environmental stewardship, philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter @CatBrozena

We know that most kids across the country fall far short of the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity.

Driven by a confluence of family, environmental and technological changes, the consequences of increased screen time for kids of all ages are frequently measured in poor health metrics. A new report  by Active Living Research reviewed trends in sedentary behaviors among youth and their impact on obesity, including the differences based in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

The findings from a review of a large body of research in the literature, led by Deborah Lou, Ph.D. at Active Research  are interesting:

  • Sedentary behavior, primarily assessed as time spent viewing TV, increases risk for overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence.
  • Children and adolescents spend an average of 6 and 8 hours per day, respectively, in sedentary behaviors, both during and outside of school.
  • The amount of time children and adolescents spend daily in sedentary activities, and the percentage of youths engaging in excessive sedentary time, both increased in recent years. A dramatic increase in screen time, which includes new ways to consume TV content, appears to be driving the increase in kids’ sedentary time.
  • African American children report spending more time in sedentary behaviors than do White children, and children from lower-income families report more sedentary time than children from more affluent families, but those disparities are not evident in studies based on objective measures.
  • Older children and teens are more likely to spend more time in sedentary behaviors and to exceed recommended limits on sedentary time than younger children.
  • The evidence on whether girls or boys are more sedentary is mixed. Objective data revealed teenage girls are more sedentary than teenage boys, but surveys indicated boys spend more time playing video games.
  • Children who do not have limits on screen time and live in homes with multiple TVs and TVs in bedrooms are at greater risk for sedentary behavior.


Read the full report.

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