To promote healthy lifestyles among children and adolescents in Singapore, a new set of guidelines were made to help parents manage various activities involving physical activities, eating habits, and healthy screen time usage. These were made to find ways to promote a healthy lifestyle among the youth.
The guidelines were launched on Friday (8 January) experts found the youths were spending too much time on screens and were not getting enough sleep and proper exercise.
Research Shows Kids Might Need More Exercise And Less Screen Time
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From a local survey conducted by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) that involved 100 parents of children aged 5 to 14 years old, 43 per cent of the kids did not engage in any vigorous physical activity 32 per cent weren’t participating in any moderate exercise. 25 per cent of them were also found to be spending 10 waking hours each day in sedentary behaviour.
Even with the recommended 2 hours a day for screen time usage, 20 per cent of the children were found to spend more than 4 hours of screen viewing daily. Quite a number were also seen to not getting enough sleep with 20 per cent not meeting the required bedtime on weekdays.
While 70 per cent of the parents surveyed were concerned with how much screen time their kids had, 41 per cent of them were still not aware of the existing guidelines for screen viewing.
Researchers also found that while 30 per cent of parents believed their kids were not getting enough exercise or sleep, 49 per cent did know of the existing physical activity guidelines, and 20 per cent were unaware there were sleep guidelines.
The findings prompted healthcare professionals in developing a set of guidelines to provide a structured daily activity guideline and health advice for children and teenagers.
24-Hour Activity Guidelines For Children And Teens
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To improve the health of children ages 7 to 18 years old, the integrated guidelines recommend activities for them to do within a 24-hour period based on locally and globally established studies. They also complement the guidelines from 2013 on physical and sedentary behaviour for children and adolescents by the Health Promotion Board.
The recommendations were made by a workgroup of healthcare professionals comprising of KKH-led IPRAMAHO and the College of Paediatrics and Child Health in Academy of Medicine Singapore, in partnership with Exercise is Medicine Singapore, Sports Medicine Association, Perinatal Society of Singapore, Singapore Paediatric Society and College of Family Physicians Singapore, and Singapore Medical Association.
Dr Benny Loo Kai Gou, the chairman of the workgroup and a paediatrician at KKH, said during the launch, “This set of guidelines helps to promote a structured and comprehensive approach in organising a child’s 24-hour day of physical activities, sedentary time, and sleep, to optimise his/her health outcomes in the long run.”
It was also stated that these guidelines would be provided to healthcare providers who may direct the appropriate options to their patients. He added that the given time frame of 24 hours is to give kids the idea that these would be small, daily steps to follow to aim for a healthier lifestyle.
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The guidelines made are of the following summary statements:
1. Children and adolescents should adopt a healthy lifestyle that consists of regular physical activity, limited sedentary behaviour, adequate sleep, and good eating habits for each 24-hour period to improve their physical, mental and social health.
2. They should engage in at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in a week or more the better.
3. Engage in exercises that strengthen their muscles and bones for at least three times a week which may also be counted to their daily 60-minute physical activity.
4. Regularly participate in a variety of light physical activities throughout a day.
5. Recreational screen time should be limited as much as possible.
6. During prolonged sitting or inactivity, there should be regular breaks for them to move around.
7. Regular sleep of at least:
- 9 hours for 7 to 13 years old
- 8 hours for 14 to 17 years old
- 7 hours for 18 years old
8. For your child’s safety, take necessary precautions before, during and after exercise. See a doctor if they feel unwell during the exercise.
9. To optimise growth, maturation and development, have regular meals that consist of nutritionally-balanced foods and drinks during daily activities.
10. To get the best results, aim to achieve most if not all recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, sleep and diet.
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