Only 5 Percent of Adolescents Meet Sleep, Exercise, Screen Time Guidelines

A new study found that a majority of kids are spending too little time sleeping and exercising and too much time on electronics. ONLY FIVE PERCENT OF adolescents in the United States are meeting the national recommendations for sleep, exercise and screen time.

A study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics discovered that only 1 in 20 adolescents are meeting the guidelines and that a discrepancy exists between the sexes. Only three percent of girls get enough sleep and exercise and don't exceed screen time recommendations, compared to seven percent of boys.


According to the study, children aged 6 to 12 years old should get between nine and 12 hours of sleep. Children aged 14 to 18 years old should sleep for eight to 10 hours per night. Both groups should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day and limit screen time to less than two hours a day.


Meeting all three of these guidelines "may have a greater association with health outcomes than meeting any one recommendation in isolation." However, the authors write, the likelihood of kids meeting all three guidelines "across various sociodemographic factors is unknown."


Gregory Knell, author and research fellow at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said in a press release that he was surprised by how few adolescents are hitting the benchmarks and that the study's results are a "wake-up call." He added that there can be considerable effects on physical and emotional health and academic performance.


"There is plenty of evidence to show how teenagers aren't getting enough physical activity, or sufficient sleep, or keeping their screen time in check," Knell said. "But this is the first time these three factors, which have a crucial bearing on a child's health, have been analyzed together … The results are a wake-up call for everyone who wants to make sure our children have a healthy future."


Researchers analyzed the responses of almost 60,000 high school students in the U.S. from the 2011 to 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. They found that older teens, African-American and Asian children, those classified as obese and those who showed signs of depression were the least likely to meet all the guidelines.


Based on the results, the authors stress that doctors need to speak more with their patients about these behaviors and provide advice to them and their families.


USN article by By Alexa Lardieri, Staff Writer Feb. 4, 2019

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