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Parents overestimate child fitness levels

Seven in 10 parents (71 per cent) think their children are "active enough" but only one in 10 of their children (10 per cent) say they do the recommended amount of exercise, according to a survey out today from British Heart Foundation (BHF). Nearly 1,000 UK parents with children aged eight to 15 were questioned. BHF's report 'Couch Kids' shows that while the number of obese children has risen since the mid-1990s, there have been no major changes in children's physical activity levels over the past decade.

Vital to be physically active

“Regular physical activity is vital for children to reduce their chances of becoming obese and developing Type 2 diabetes," said Libby Dowling, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

How much?

“It is recommended that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This does not have to be all in one go; it can be in chunks of about 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day.

Parents have key role

“Parents have a key part to play in controlling their children’s weight. Encouraging them to be fit and active by simply walking to school or playing football in the garden are great ways to give children the start in life they deserve.”

Government priority

A Department of Heath spokesperson added: "Tackling childhood obesity is a priority for the Government.

"Emerging evidence suggests childhood obesity rates may be levelling off but they are still too high.

"We are taking tough action and investing £372m to address obesity and to prevent people becoming overweight in the first place."

BHF calls for action

The BHF is calling for urgent action to ensure children can get fit and active easily with:

  • guidelines on recommended levels of physical activity for all age groups
  • schools maximising the opportunities for physical activity
  • collection of data about physical activity levels across the UK by local authorities and national governments.
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