UK Encourages Babies to Exercise, Should U.S. Follow Suit?

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No matter how young you are you should be exercising, according to a new health guidance issued by the United Kingdom.

The guidance indicates that one way to combat obesity is to start exercising at a young age, even including as young as a baby.

Children under the age of five, even if they cannot walk yet, should be exercising every day. For babies unable to walk yet, researchers encourage infants to play on their stomachs and have swimming sessions with the aid of parents.

The children under age five should be exercising for around three hours per day. This is the first measure directed at children five and younger by the United Kingdom.

The exercise sets a good trend for the rest of the child's life as well as helps motor skills and muscle development.

Our childhood and teenage years are where we develop habits and lifestyles that generally continue throughout our adult life, said Maura Gillespie, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the British Heart Foundation, in a statement. So it's vital that parents introduce children to fun and physically active pastimes to help prevent them becoming obese children, who are likely to become obese adults at risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Last summer in Sweden, researchers presented statistics that seem to back up the UK's new recommendations. The group studied exercising measures to prevent obesity in three different age groups, and the under-five group saw the best changes.

The author of the study, Boyd Swinburn of the World Health Organization, said that young children seem to be the most susceptible to change. Swinburn saw much more positive change in the younger children, whereas with adolescents there was virtually no impact on weight gain.

Close to 25 percent of British adults are obese and that number could increase all the way to 90 percent by 2050, according to some experts.

Should the U.S. do the same?

While the United States has an exercise plan in place for children aged 6 to 17, the government has largely ignored getting involved with younger children. But after a recent study shows obesity gains essentially in every state in the United States, it might be prudent to look at preventing obesity at the youngest ages possible.

Currently in the United States approximately 12.5 million children suffer from obesity, according to the Center for Disease Control. That number represents about 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States.

Sadly that number is more than triple the amount a generation ago had and one can only imagine what that number will be another generation from now.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made it a point of emphasis to stress healthy eating and encouraging exercising during her husband's presidential term.

While Mrs. Obama should certainly be commended for her anti-obesity campaign, it would be worthwhile for her to make an attempt at reaching younger children in the coming months.

 

 

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