Programs Aimed At Getting Kids Moving Do Anything But
Programs aimed at increasing the physical activity in kids are failing to do so, according to a new study, published in the journal BMJ. Researchers found that these programs are not encouraging kids to exercise more, which would explain why they have not made a dent in the rising childhood obesity rate.
The idea that exercise programs, extra P.E. classes and other activities will make kids more active works in theory, researchers said, but in practicality, they have not done much of anything.
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Researchers analyzed studies in which the researchers attached activity monitors to children to measure their day-to-day activity level -- 14,000 students in all. They found that formal activity programs result in a "small to negligible increase" in movement through the day.
While the results are disappointing, the Mark Hamer, a researcher at University College London who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said we should not give up on the programs. Activity is important, it's just figuring out how to get kids interested, he said.
"We know physical activity is important," he said, according to USA Today. "What we're not good at is designing behavioral interventions that increase it."
Some studies have shown a "modest" increase in physical activity, but researchers conceded that "we haven't hit any home runs yet."
More than 12.5 million American children ages 2 through 19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the number of obese children has tripled since 1980. Health care costs related to childhood obesity totaled $3 billion in 2009, according to a study published in Nature.
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