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The case for physical activity and health in children is widely accepted and promoted by health authorities,1 but is set against a background of rapidly increasing levels of obesity2 for which increasingly sedentary lifestyles are largely responsible.3
Characterising and measuring children's activity has proved to be far from easy, as at least five dimensions of activity can impact on different aspects of health.4 This study highlights both the worrying trend towards inactivity in children, and the problems of reliably recording overall activity in this young age group by user friendly questionnaire. Accelerometers show promise in measuring activity patterns in children, but have not yet been fully validated, and are currently too expensive to be widely used as a large scale research tool. However, as safety concerns place more restrictions on children's leisure activities, and they are wooed by ever increasing options for sitting in front of various types of screen for entertainment, accurate measurement of activity patterns is essential to find out which children are at risk and why, and to enable effective interventions in making them more active.
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