Poorer kids do the least exercise and 'at greater risk of being obese', study says

KIDS from poorer households clock up the least exercise, research shows.

Youngsters from ethnic backgrounds also do less than average, the study of 5,000 seven-year-olds reveals.

Researchers warn a lack of exercise is fuelling the growing obesity epidemic.

Experts say their findings may explain why disadvantaged and non-white kids are more likely to be fat.

One in three UK youngsters now leaves primary school too tubby.

But obesity risk is three times higher among the nation’s poorest youngsters compared to the most well off.

Being too heavy leaves kids at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Researcher Esther van Sluijs said: “Changes to reduce the gaps could help reduce levels of obesity.”

Her team at Cambridge University used higher education as a measure of wealth.

They found kids whose mums went to uni did three more daily minutes of intense exercise, such as running or swimming, than those whose mothers did not finish school.

Children from ethnic groups did 2.2 minutes less than the 19.9-minute average, according to the study in the BMJ Open journal.

Public Health England says they should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.


Senior researcher Dr Esther van Sluijs, from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at Cambridge University, said: “There are clear differences in the amount of vigorous physical activity a child does depending on their socioeconomic and ethnic background.

“Although individually, these differences are small, at a population level they are likely to make a difference.

"Changes to reduce existing gaps in vigorous intensity activity could help reduce existing inequalities in levels of obesity in children.”

The team say parents in poorer families may work longer hours, making it harder for kids to take part in sport activities or join teams.

Researcher Dr Jean Adams said: “Children from different backgrounds can face a number of barriers preventing them from participating in sports or other types of vigorous physical activity.

“We need to find more ways to provide opportunities for all children to get involved in vigorous activity.”

Previous research has shown that obesity is three times higher in kids from poor backgrounds.

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