How much do your kids’ friendships matter when it comes to how physically active they are?
A lot, according to a new study done by Vanderbilt University and published in the journal Pediatrics, June 2012.
In a study of 81 children ages five to 12 in an after-school program, researchers found the strongest influence on how much time the kids spent in activity (moderate-to-vigorous) was the activity levels of their immediate friends.
Kids didn’t make or break friendships based on physical activity levels, but their existing friendships “heavily influenced” their activity levels, according to the study authors.
Given the ill health effects of obesity that can carry into adulthood, the authors concluded in a written statement, network interventions have the potential to significantly change kids’ physical activity levels.
About 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese, and obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the U.S. since 1980 has about tripled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.