NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2004

Children as young as three years old are not getting enough exercise, while 10 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are overweight, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Furthermore, says the journal, an additional 12 percent are at risk of becoming overweight.

The study is the first large one of its kind to examine the physical activity habits of preschool-age children, ages 3 to 5. Researcher Russ Pate and his colleagues examined the activity levels of 281 kids in nine pre-schools.

According to his findings:

  • Moderate to vigorous activity accounted for an average of 7.7 minutes per hour per day among the children; most of the activity occurred outdoors over blocks of time.
  • Boys were more likely to participate in moderate to vigorous activity than girls, and black children in general were more likely to participate in vigorous physical activity than white children.
  • Children aged 4 and 5 were more likely to be sedentary than children aged 3.

Moreover, Pate and the other researchers noted that being outdoors was the best predictor of physical activity among children. With pre-school programs becoming more cognitive and less oriented toward physical activity, Pate urges parents to make certain that children are getting enough physical activity outside of pre-school.

Source: Nanci Hellmich, "Study: Kids Don't Exercise Nearly Enough at Preschool," USA Today, November 1, 2004; based upon, Russell R. Pate, et al., "Physical Activity Among Children Attending Preschools," Pediatrics, No. 114, Issue 5, November 2004.

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