Picture: A child in front of a computer 
Inner city school children
spend too much time in front
of computers; © SXC

University of Leicester researchers Kamlesh Khunti, Melanie Davies and Margaret Stone have just published one of the largest studies of physical activity levels of inner city school children. They surveyed over 3500 pupils from five inner city secondary schools in Leicester.

They identified low levels of physical activity in both South Asian and white children. For example only half the children walked to school although south Asian children were less likely to walk to school compared to white children. Furthermore, half the pupils spent four hours or more a day watching television or videos or playing computer games. Family history of diabetes or heart disease in parents is a risk factor for development of diabetes or heart disease in their children.

However, the researchers found that children of parents with a family history of diabetes or heart disease were just as likely to have sedentary behaviours as those without a family history. “Metabolic abnormalities precede the development of diabetes by some years and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in children often persist into adulthood,” Khunti said. The results say that there is evidence of increased risk of cardiovascular risk factors in children of South Asian origin compared to white children.

“Inactive behaviour, such as watching television, may predict subsequent adult overweight and obesity in children and adolescent. However, there is a lack of data on physical activity levels of South Asian children despite them having a higher cardiovascular risk profile,” Khanti explains. “This study shows that overall the physical activity levels in inner city school children are very low and parents, schools and community health providers need to address the results of these findings to reduce their future risks of developing diabetes and heart disease in children”.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Leicester