8 Feb 2017

Obese kids watch more TV, study finds

12:02 pm on 8 February 2017

A new study of overweight children has found many spend hours watching screens each day, rather than being physically active.

The study, organised by the University of Auckland and other organisations, assessed 239 overweight and obese children aged from four to 16.

Child gaming.

Nearly half of New Zealand children have some form of device in their bedroom, the study says. Photo: 123RF

It found fewer than one in five (19 percent) do at least an hour of physical activity per day - the recommended amount. They had a daily average of 39 minutes.

On average, they spend two-and-a-half hours each day watching screens.

Almost half of the children had a television or some form of device in their bedrooms, a doctor at the Liggins Institute and study co-author Yvonne Anderson said.

Physical activity tended to decrease as children got older, she said.

Dr Yvonne Anderson, paediatrician and researcher

Study co-author Yvonne Anderson says children tend to do less physical activity as they get older. Photo: Supplied

"Especially in teenagers, it wasn't uncommon to see children spending more than five or six hours per day on screen time," she said.

"This is from the end of school until bedtime - this impacts on their sleep."

It was not just the responsibility of parents to fix the problem, Sport Taranaki chief executive Howie Tamati said.

"It is important that as parents, caregivers and people in the community, we encourage and support our children and teenagers to increase their physical activity levels and to give them opportunities to find ways to enjoy being active," he said.

Of those studied, 45 percent were Pākehā and 45 percent Maori, while 10 percent were other ethnicities.

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