News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Childs play helps combats obesity

Childs play helps combats obesity

Research published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggests that children can benefit more from active play compared to structured exercise.

“When it comes to combating obesity and increasing children’s daily physical activity levels, active play is just as important, if not more so, than structured exercise,” says Associate Professor Erica Hinckson from AUT University’s Centre for Child Health Research and Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

The research examined perceptions of physical activity versus ‘play’ amongst parents and children from socio-economically deprived areas. Findings revealed that participants viewed physical activity and play quite differently, which could lead to barriers in engaging with any type of healthy activity.

“Physical activity was seen as structured activity, undertaken for a specific timeframe every day, whereas play was seen as unstructured activity which involved having fun,” says Hinckson.

“The view that physical activity is something structured (in order to be beneficial) seemed to distance participants from engagement. There was a strong perception that physical activity was ‘good for you’, rather than ‘being fun’, and this perception seemed to be a barrier to children getting involved in physical activity.”

A group of South Auckland school children (age 8-12), and their parents took part in the study where the aim was to identify factors influencing healthy and overweight children’s after school activities.

Previous research has found significant differences in the health and weight of children from lower socio-economic backgrounds compared to middle income families.
“After school community activity programmes have been identified as a means of increasing overall activity levels in children, however the emphasis of these should be on ‘play’ rather than physical activity.”

Hinckson says that while interventions focusing on active play have proved successful at increasing physical activity, some practitioners do not view play as physically demanding or able to provide children with the same benefits of structured exercise.

Despite this, previous research has shown that children engage with more moderate to vigorous physical activity from active play during lunch break at school than from structured exercise in physical education classes.

Parents in the study also highlighted a number of potential barriers to increased physical activity levels in their children; these included time, money and transport. Community support and communication were identified as important in creating safer communities and places to play for children.

“For after school community activity programmes to be successful, a safe neighbourhood environment in conjunction with increased community support is really important for parents.

“Free or low cost programmes, supervised playgrounds, improved community communication and support, car pooling kids to activities – these were amongst some of the recommendations we received from our parents to increase physical activity of children in their neighbourhoods,” says Hinckson.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news