Children who sit too long may suffer health consequences

ChildrenIpadAdult-sized health consequences could affect children who sit too much when they grow up, according to a new study of healthy young girls.

The study, by the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, shows that children who sit continuously for three or more hours a day may experience changes in their blood flow and arteries. When they become adults, this could signal the start of cardiovascular problems.

Nine girls between 9 and 12 were recruited for the test. Two of them were overweight, and the others were of a normal weight. The researchers began by testing their baseline arterial function using ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs. The girls had a healthy arterial function.

Ipad vs Bicycles

As the study progressed, half of the group was asked to sit on a beanbag, watch movies and play on an Ipad. The other group was prompted to do the same, but at the start of each hour, they had to get up and go over to a row of stationary bicycles and ride them gently for 10 minutes before sitting down again. After a few days, the groups swapped.

The researchers found that the girls who were sitting still for an uninterrupted three hours presented arteries that no longer functioned as well as they had at the start and were affected by a fall of 33% of arterial dilatation.

While the impacts are still unknown for a day after day uninterrupted sitting for children, past studies have found that the more hours that adults spend sitting, the more likely they are to develop diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and potentially to die prematurely, even if they exercise regularly.

According to recent studies, children across the globe sit for about 8.5 hours every day and are continuously less active after about the age of 8. Sedentary lifestyles increase throughout adolescence despite us knowing more about the consequences in adulthood.

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