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Sedentary Behavior Common Among Immigrant Children

Compared to U.S.-born children, immigrants are more likely to shun physical activity and sports

THURSDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to children born in the United States, immigrant children are significantly more likely to be physically inactive and not participate in sports, according to an article published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Gopal K. Singh, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health on 68,288 children aged 6 to 17.

Overall, the researchers found that more than one-third of all Hispanic, Asian, and black immigrant children and adolescents did not meet the recommended levels of physical activity and that more than half of Hispanic and black immigrant children did not participate in sports. Although immigrant children were less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to watch more than three hours of television per day, the gap narrowed as immigrant children became more acculturated.

"Given the health benefits of physical activity, continued higher physical inactivity and lower activity levels in immigrant children are likely to reduce their overall health advantage over U.S.-born populations during adulthood," the authors conclude. "To reduce disparities in childhood physical activity, health education programs designed to promote physical activity should target not only children from socially disadvantaged households and neighborhoods but also children in immigrant families."

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