by Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Three-quarters of children in the United States are not meeting physical activity recommendations, according to a recent report authored by concerned health experts from around the country and by scientists from Baton Rouge at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The report, compiled by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, indicates that nearly 63 percent of children are exceeding screen time guidelines, meaning that a majority of kids are sitting more and moving less. These habits put our country’s children at risk for obesity, diabetes and related chronic disease as they get older.
Here in Louisiana, one out of every two children is considered overweight or obese*. That statistic is unacceptable to Dr. Amanda Staiano, an assistant professor of research in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab at Pennington Biomedical, who is working to find creative ways to improve children’s health.
“We know that if we can help children develop healthy habits such as moving more when they are younger, they are more likely to continue those habits past adolescence into adulthood,” said Staiano.
According to Staiano, the first step to helping kids move more is understanding why they aren’t already moving enough. That’s why she is leading the TIGER Kids research study, which is researching ways to increase kids’ physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior to improve their overall health.
During the course of the study, Staiano and her team are using state-of-the-art technology like activity trackers and global positioning systems (GPS) to follow kids’ physical activity patterns for seven days to learn more about what prevents them from being active and what motivates them to move more. Kids in the study will also use a mobile phone app to share more information with researchers about who they are with and what they are doing — for example, spending time at the park with friends — when they are most physically active.
“This is a great way for me to teach my daughter about healthy habits,” said Brandy Davis, whose daughter, Ariamarie, is participating in the TIGER Kids study. “Both my son and I have been a part of research studies at Pennington Biomedical before, and we have really gotten some great health information from participating in those studies. My daughter was so excited to be a part of the TIGER Kids study because she is fascinated by the activity trackers and all the great information she’ll get about her own activity levels.”
Staiano said the TIGER Kids study is still looking for children between the ages of 10 and 16 to participate in the study. In addition to great health information they can share with their doctor, participants who complete the study will also receive compensation for their time.
If you’re interested in learning more about the TIGER Kids study and how your family might participate, contact Pennington Biomedical at 225-763-3000 or by visiting www.pbrc.edu/healthierLA.