Topic : WHO guidelines on physical activity for children under 5 years of age
Topic in Syllabus : General Studies 1: Indian Society
World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age.
- Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains.
- Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life.
- Failure to meet current physical activity recommendations is responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year across all age groups.
- Currently, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. If healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.
- The pattern of overall 24-hour activity is key: replacing prolonged restrained or sedentary screen time with more active play, while making sure young children get enough good-quality sleep. Quality sedentary time spent in interactive non-screen-based activities with a caregiver, such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles, is very important for child development.
- Applying the recommendations in these guidelines during the first five years of life will contribute to children’s motor and cognitive development and lifelong health.
Infants (less than 1 year) should:
- Be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake.
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
- Have 14–17h (0–3 months of age) or 12–16h (4–11 months of age) of good quality sleep, including naps.
Children 1-2 years of age should:
- Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back) or sit for extended periods of time.
- For 1-year-olds, sedentary screen time (such as watching TV or videos, playing computer games) is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
- Have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times.
Children 3-4 years of age should:
- Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.
- Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers) or sit for extended periods of time. Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
- Have 10–13h of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times.
The key audiences for these guidelines are:
- Policy makers in ministries of health, education and /or social welfare, working in high as well as low- and middle-income countries, who formulate country-specific guidelines and who plan family, childcare or community-based intervention programmes.
- Persons working in non-governmental organizations and early childhood development services can use the guidelines to define critical elements of childcare services.
- Those providing advice and guidance to caregivers, such as community or family nurses or doctors, pediatricians or occupational therapists, can use the guidelines to inform the content of their advice on these topics.
SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF GUIDELINES:
- The overall goals of these guidelines are to provide recommendations on the amount of time in a 24-hour day that young children, under 5 years of age, should spend being physically active or sleeping for their health and wellbeing, and the maximum recommended time these children should spend on screen-based sedentary activities or restrained.
- The guidelines do not address how these durations of activity, sedentary time or sleep should be achieved.
- Additional resources and tools will be developed to address these issues and support early childhood educators, carers and parents to help children achieve these recommendations
- By providing this guidance, the recommendations fill a gap in the WHO recommendations on physical activity, as children under 5 years of age were not included in the Global recommendations on physical activity for health in 2010 (1) and will also contribute to the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity .
- These guidelines also contribute to the broader Nurturing care for early childhood development framework.
Recently New WHO guidelines stated that “To grow up healthy, children need to sit less and play more” justify the statement.