If the obesity epidemic is to be turned around, even babies and kids under age 5 should exercise every day, a new set of guidelines from British health officials have declared. The guidelines recommend that kids who can walk engage in 3 hours of physical activity spread throughout each day, and that non-walking babies experience activities including "tummy time," swimming sessions with parents, and other active play. From The Associated Press:
In its first such guidelines for children that young, the health department said kids under 5 who can walk should be physically active for at least three hours a day. Officials also said parents should reduce the amount of time such kids spend being sedentary while watching television or being strapped in a stroller.
The three hours of activity should be spread throughout the day. Officials said the children's daily dose of exercise is likely to be met simply through playing but could also include activities such as walking to school.
For babies who can't walk yet, the government said physical activity should be encouraged from birth, including infants playing on their stomachs or having swimming sessions with their parents. The government said children's individual physical and mental abilities should be considered when interpreting the advice.
"It's vital that parents introduce children to fun and physically active pastimes to help prevent them becoming obese children, who are likely to become obese adults at risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers," Maura Gillespie, head of policy and advocacy at the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement.
An estimated one-quarter of British adults are obese, the article said, as compared to around one-third of Americans. American health officials including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least an hour of activity for children and teenagers, and 15 minutes of active time for every hour babies spend in child care.