– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Any parent of a teenager will be aware of just how difficult it is to tear them away from phones or computers.
So, it probably comes as no surprise that new research from academics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has found that only one in 20 adolescents in America are meeting national recommendations for sleeping, physical activity, and screen time.
“There is plenty of evidence to show how teenagers aren’t getting enough physical activity, or sufficient sleep, or keeping their screen time in check. But this is the first time these three factors, which have a crucial bearing on a child’s health, have been analysed together among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents,” said first author Dr. Gregory Knell. “The results are a wake-up call for everyone who wants to make sure our children have a healthy future.”
The research involved nearly 60,000 high school students, using data from the 2011-2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. As well as discovering wide-ranging issues with teenager’s exercise and sleeping patterns, the investigators found differences between women and men too, with just three per cent of girls reaching all three guideline targets, compared to seven per cent of boys.
“By far the most startling finding was how few adolescents across the board are meeting all three recommendations,” Dr. Knell added. “I expected the percentage of adolescents meeting all three requirements concurrently to be low, but not this low. The combined effect on children’s overall health could be considerable in terms of their physical health, emotional wellbeing, and academic performance.”
According to National Sleep Foundation recommendations, children aged 14-18 should sleep eight to 10 hours a night. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least an hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity daily, as well as limiting screen time to less than two hours.
Full study results have been published in JAMA Pediatrics.