Concern at lack of physical activity among girls
INDIAN girls are the least physically active among all seven-year-olds in the UK, a major study has revealed.
Researchers at University College London looked into the activity levels of almost 7,000 children and found that Indian girls exercised the least compared to other groups of children.
Bangladeshi and Pakistani girls were next in line as the lowest.
UK guidelines recommend that children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for at least an hour every day, and also spend less time sitting down. But Indian girls only achieved an MVPA of only 45 minutes a day and Bangladeshi and Pakistani girls did 50 minutes a day.
Women sports campaigners described the findings as worrying and said a lack of role models in the Asian community was a factor.
Professor Carol Dezateux, one of the lead authors of the report titled, How active are our children? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study, told Eastern Eye the gender differences were “striking” and called for policies to promote more exercise among girls, including dancing, playground activities, and ball games.
“I think it's important we don't lay on a load of stereotypes to do with why Indian girls are not physically active.
“The problem is a lot of parents worry about their children playing out, they are worried about children walking to school or they don't have the time, so it all conspires against us.
“Schools, parents and local authorities need to tackle this problem together to not reach for the car keys, but reach for the shoes.”
The researchers asked children to wear an accelerometer for a full week between May 2008 and August 2009. The gadget monitored the children’s activity, and was only removed when they bathed or went to bed.
Dezateux added that the research sent out a important message to the south Asian community who are more prone to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes than the rest of the general population.
“The health message has to be about getting them into good habits which will help them live a long life.”
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