Kids in Home-Based Day Care Lack Exercise

Most providers meet nutrition but not physical activity needs, study finds

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FRIDAY, Dec. 18, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Most home-based child-care providers meet nutrition standards but don't give children enough physical activity, allowing them to spend too much time in front of the TV, a new study contends.

Oregon State University researcher Stewart Trost surveyed about 300 home-based child-care providers who looked after children ages 2 to 5. Though 78 percent offered more than an hour a day of active play, 41 percent said children sat for extended periods during the day, and two-thirds said the TV was on most of the day, the study found.

Children aged 2 to 5 shouldn't watch more than two hours of TV a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Trost, an expert on obesity issues, said that another finding -- that 63 percent of child-care providers restricted active play or exercise as a form of punishment -- was alarming.

"Would you withhold fruits and vegetables for kids who misbehave and negatively affect their health?" he asked in a university news release. "All the research shows that restricting physical activity makes children more, not less, likely to misbehave. So, it's not even an effective means of punishment."

Another startling finding, he said, was that less than half of the child-care providers had received any training in physical activity.

But the providers did "pretty well" in promoting healthy eating habits, the study found. Very few said they served fried foods or high-fat foods at meals or sweets or chips as snacks.

The study was published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

SOURCE: Oregon State University, news release, Dec. 15, 2009

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