Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Teaching Kids Healthy Habits Teaching Kids Healthy Habits

Friends Influence How Active Kids Are

Posted by on May. 31, 2012 at 12:40 AM
  • 10 Replies

Friends Influence How Active Kids Are

By 
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

children running together

May 28, 2012 -- Kids who like to be active can influence others to do the same, or at least that's what new research finds.

Children in social groups that included others who were physically active were six times more likely to be physically active themselves in a study published today in the journal Pediatrics.

When researchers directly measured activity levels among children attending after-school programs in Nashville, Tenn., they found the activity level of their closest peers to be the strongest influence on the amount of time the children spent engaged in physical activity.

Friends Influenced Activity

Nearly 1 in 5 kids in the U.S. is obese, compared to less than 1 in 10 just three decades ago.

Lack of exercise is a major contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic, and researchers say the new findings have implications for health policymakers who want to get children moving.

"We know that most obesity interventions do not work, which is why preventing obesity in the first place is so important," says researcher Sabina B. Gesell, PhD, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

"This research suggests that if we consider friendship networks in our efforts to prevent childhood obesity, we are likely to see gains that we have not seen with other interventions."

The study builds on earlier work suggesting that social networks have a big impact on body weight in adults.

Social Networks and Obesity

Research finding that obesity spreads from friend to friend made headlines several years ago, and the idea remains controversial.

The new study is one of the first to examine the impact of social networks on activity levels in children.

Using a motion-sensing device known as an accelerometer, the Vanderbilt researchers measured activity among 81 mostly elementary school-aged children over a three-month period while they were attending after-school programs.

They also interviewed the children to determine who they spent the most time with during these after-school hours.

The children tended to group by gender, race, age, and where they went to school, but not by activity level, Gesell tells WebMD.

Active kids were no more likely to have a lot of friends than kids who were more sedentary.

But when they examined activity levels during free time, the researchers found that children adjusted their activity levels to match those of their closest peers.

"Children became either more active or more sedentary as they emulated the behaviors of those in their immediate network," the researchers write.

Sociologist Mark Pachucki, PhD, of the University of California, is studying how social networks influence eating behaviors in children and teens. He was not involved in the new study.

His earlier work in adults found that friends tend to share similar eating patterns.

"Social networks haven't been thought of as a health behavior, but that is changing," he says.

He says the early research suggests that children who spend time with friends who model desired behaviors tend to imitate these behaviors.

"A child who is an average basketball player should be playing with kids who are better than they are," he says. "By the same token, kids who don't exercise or eat well may benefit from hanging out with kids who do."

Proud Navy Wife since 1/10/06; toddler girl Mother to McKenna since 12/11/08,  toddler girl McKaela since 5/27/10 & baby girl Maisie since 8/15/11.

 Due in September? Join us in September 2011 Babies!

by on May. 31, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Harris06
by Megan on May. 31, 2012 at 12:44 AM

Does anyone else remember being "forced" to play outside? My mom would lock the door for 30 minutes to an hour so we would stay outside. Now, she would watch us and knew what was going on and if we needed help or to be let in but "according to" my brothers and I we were most definitely "locked outside". Let me also preface here, my mom played with us a lot but if there were days that we were brats and refusing to go outside to play at all or something than she would "lock" us out while she watched.

I don't lock my girls outside but they do ask to go out and I let them. Just today they asked to go out and blow bubbles and I let them while I was inside cleaning the kitchen but could see thier every move. We even talked and made faces through the glass. :)

nngmommy83
by on May. 31, 2012 at 1:25 AM
This is true! I love in a very active community and I hardly see many obese kids here
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
soccerchik8287
by on May. 31, 2012 at 2:33 AM
Interesting. I hate that its not as safe nowadays for kids to play outside. When I was a kid I Spent tons of time outside and always felt safe. I dont feel like its safe to let my daughter be outside by herself- not because she wouldnt stay in the yard or anything, I just dont trust other people who might drive by to leave her alone. I hate that. I know it limits the amount of time she is outside playing around because I cant be out with her all day every day sadly
PoehlerBear1983
by Meghan on May. 31, 2012 at 5:52 AM
We have a very active neighborhood here. My boys are very active
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Harris06
by Megan on May. 31, 2012 at 6:14 AM
I agree, I hate that it is not safe to let our children just go outside and play. I mean, I am leery of my girls playing in the backyard and we have a privacy fence and are not Ron a main road. I remember my brothers spending hours outside playing, climbing trees, riding bikes, playing soccer, etc. Its really sad that every day gets a little worse and our kids miss out of some of the creative fun o being a kid that we got.

Quoting soccerchik8287:

Interesting. I hate that its not as safe nowadays for kids to play outside. When I was a kid I Spent tons of time outside and always felt safe. I dont feel like its safe to let my daughter be outside by herself- not because she wouldnt stay in the yard or anything, I just dont trust other people who might drive by to leave her alone. I hate that. I know it limits the amount of time she is outside playing around because I cant be out with her all day every day sadly
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
batjmom
by Sarah on May. 31, 2012 at 7:03 AM
I agree with this. My boys are very active and keep busy.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
sarah824
by on May. 31, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Our kids are outside a TON this time of year. All the neighborhood kids are. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac and at any given time on a Saturday there are 8-14 kids running around outside. They come and go through everyone's backyards and have a great time.

VisionSeeker
by on May. 31, 2012 at 11:06 AM

 We were *forced*  But I remember us all having bikes and my dad or stepmonster saying be back at such and such time.  We would go EVERYWHERE on our bikes.  That's when you drank from a hose, built your own clubhouse and rode in a station wagon without seatbelts too :)

Quoting Harris06:

Does anyone else remember being "forced" to play outside? My mom would lock the door for 30 minutes to an hour so we would stay outside. Now, she would watch us and knew what was going on and if we needed help or to be let in but "according to" my brothers and I we were most definitely "locked outside". Let me also preface here, my mom played with us a lot but if there were days that we were brats and refusing to go outside to play at all or something than she would "lock" us out while she watched.

I don't lock my girls outside but they do ask to go out and I let them. Just today they asked to go out and blow bubbles and I let them while I was inside cleaning the kitchen but could see thier every move. We even talked and made faces through the glass. :)

 

Harris06
by Megan on May. 31, 2012 at 11:19 AM
YES! Those were the days, huh? :)

Quoting VisionSeeker:

 We were *forced*  But I remember us all having bikes and my dad or stepmonster saying be back at such and such time.  We would go EVERYWHERE on our bikes.  That's when you drank from a hose, built your own clubhouse and rode in a station wagon without seatbelts too :)


Quoting Harris06:


Does anyone else remember being "forced" to play outside? My mom would lock the door for 30 minutes to an hour so we would stay outside. Now, she would watch us and knew what was going on and if we needed help or to be let in but "according to" my brothers and I we were most definitely "locked outside". Let me also preface here, my mom played with us a lot but if there were days that we were brats and refusing to go outside to play at all or something than she would "lock" us out while she watched.


I don't lock my girls outside but they do ask to go out and I let them. Just today they asked to go out and blow bubbles and I let them while I was inside cleaning the kitchen but could see thier every move. We even talked and made faces through the glass. :)


 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
kaidansmylife
by Stacie on May. 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM

 tfs.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN