en cy
d-
Sedentary Behaviours

Recommendation

Sedentary behaviours are negatively related to ‘all-cause mortality’. In simple terms this means that the longer the amount of time a person sits, the shorter they live. Children and young people may accumulate a large amount of sedentary time throughout the day. Common sedentary behaviours include; sitting down whilst at school (e.g. during lessons, during break times with friends), sitting during leisure-time (e.g. watching TV, using a computer, playing video games, reading, sitting with friends/family, etc.), and also sitting whilst using non-active transport (e.g. car).

The British Heart Foundation have summarised international recommendations from the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom. The recommendation for the amount of time children and young people should spend sitting during leisure time should be less than 2 hours per day.

Further, Australian guidelines suggest that infants, toddlers and pre-school children should not be sedentary, restrained, or kept inactive for more than one hour per day apart from when sleeping.

Definitions

The benchmark used by the Research Work Group to allocate a grade to this indicator was the percentage of children spending more than 2 hours a day in sedentary behaviours. Data on sedentary behaviours such as: % of children and young people spent 2+ hours a day playing games on an electronic device, % spent 2+ hours a day using an electronic device for purposes other than gaming, and % spent 2+ hours a day watching entertainment on a screen were used.

Survey Data

A nationally representative data source was used by the Research Work Group to assign a sedentary behaviours grade.

What children spent 2+ hours per day doing
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  1. 1

    The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey (2013/14) on 9,055 Secondary School children and young people aged 11-16 year olds, provides data on the percentage of children and young people spending 2 or more hours a day in sedentary behaviours.

    On a weekday, 53% of children and young people spent 2+ hours a day playing games on an electronic device, 64% spent 2+ hours a day using an electronic device for purposes other than gaming, and 68% spent 2+ hours a day watching entertainment on a screen. On the weekend, the proportion of children and young people who spent 2+ hours a day on playing games on an electronic device, using an electronic device for purposes other than gaming, and watching entertainment on a screen increased to 65%, 71%, and 80%, respectively.

    During weekdays, a higher proportion of boys spent 2 or more hours a day playing games on an electronic device and watching entertainment on a screen compared to girls. Girls on the other hand spent more than 2 hours a day using an electronic device for purposes other than gaming. During the weekend, the gender differences in the proportion playing games on an electronic device and using an electronic device for purposes other than gaming remained the same as on weekdays, but there were similar proportions of both boys and girl spending more than 2 hours a day watching entertainment on a screen.

    Findings for both weekdays and weekends were consistent across all socioeconomic status, and findings for playing games on an electronic device were similar across age groups. Use of electronic devices for purposes other than gaming and watching entertainment increased with age for boys and girls.

Close
Deciding on a Grade

The Research Work Group concluded that the increase in sedentary behaviours on the weekend compared to weekdays and also the inequalities in gender and age, justified the decrease from a grade D in the 2014 Report Card to a D-.

Considerations
  • The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey used self-report methods to obtain data on sedentary behaviours. There can be information bias in self-reported surveys as there may be an element of subjectivity in responses given. This often leads to an over-reporting of healthy behaviours and an underreporting of less healthy ones.
  • There are no large scale studies in which sedentary behaviours have been measured objectively through the use of accelerometers to measure inactivity.
  • There is limited research available for children across all age ranges – specifically on children under 5 years old (early years). This need to be addressed through systematic robust data collection methods.
  • The effect of interventions to decrease sedentary time and increase physical activity needs to be quantified.
  • The best available evidence shows that majority of children and young people in Wales need to decrease their levels of sedentary behaviours.
  • There needs to be a substantial reduction in the amount of time children and young people spend in sedentary behaviours. The reduction of sedentary time throughout the day is a major area of guidance development in all age groups, not least children and young people. Sedentary behaviour should be minimised where practical, and sitting patterns broken up during school, home and transport time. Limiting the number of screens available in the house, especially in children/young people’s bedroom may be an effective way of reducing sitting time.
How to Improve
  • Sedentary behaviour evidence briefing - link
  • Get Active Your Way - link
  • Change4Life Wales - link
  • Sustrans Wales - link
  • On Your Feet Britain - link
  • UP4FUN project to reduce sedentary behaviour - link
Data Sources
  • Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Wales Survey 2013/14 - link
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