Few U.S. children meet guidelines for exercise, screen time

Few U.S. children meet guidelines for exercise, screen time

Few U.S. children meet all three guidelines for physical activity, screen time, and sleep, according to a study published online Aug. 27 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Ciarán P. Friel, Ed.D., from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues used cross-sectional data from the 2016 to 2017 National Survey of Children’s Health to describe the national prevalence estimates of U.S. children who meet physical activity, screen time, and sleep guidelines. The guidelines recommend ≥60 minutes of physical activity per day; no more than two hours of screen time; and nine to 12 hours of sleep for children aged 6 to 12 years (eight to 10 hours for those aged 13 to 17 years).

The researchers found that of U.S. children, only 8.8 percent met the combination of all three guidelines. Most (86 percent) attained the sleep guideline, while only 23 and 32.9 percent met the physical activity and screen time guidelines, respectively. There was a substantial age effect, with a decrease in the prevalence of meeting each guideline and all three guidelines with age.

“These data indicate that most U.S. adolescents are transitioning into adulthood with poor movement behaviors across the 24-hour period that will likely predispose them to heightened cardiometabolic risk at an early age,” the authors write.