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WA uni aims to make children more active

AAP logoAAP 9/08/2016

Researchers are looking to boost physical activity among children after a pilot study found 82 per cent attending child care in Western Australia are not meeting national guidelines.

Data already collected from more than 40 childcare centres and 800 families in Perth shows on average children are achieving two hours of physical activity instead of the recommended three.

University of Western Australia researcher Hayley Christian said the work would look at how professionally developed activity programs in childcare centres and upgrades to outdoor play spaces could affect a child's physical activity.

"Physical activity in young children has broad health benefits such as instilling active behaviour, improved bone development, reduced risk of obesity, and enhanced cognitive and psychosocial development," she said.

"With the early years such a critical period for promoting physical activity, childcare centres are the ideal setting for targeting strategies aimed at increasing the levels of activity in children."

Dr Christian said the team had seen a decline in physical activity at a young age and the pattern followed through to adolescence.

She said the study would not ignore the role families had in how active children were.

The research is likely to influence policy and practice relating to the physical activity of children attending child care, Dr Christian added.

The new project is funded by a state government grant.

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