See Nigel Run? U.K. Push to Trim Baby Fat,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2011.

“Babies should spend less time watching TV and swim more, according to new health guidelines issued by the British government,” reports the Wall Street Journal regarding recent U.K. Department of Health recommendations.   For the first time, the agency issued exercise recommendations for children under 5 as part of their campaign to prevent and reduce obesity.  Almost 1 out of every 4 adults in the U.K. is obese. In the U.S., 17% of children and adolescents are affected by obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The baby play activities identified by the U.K. agency as “sedentary” and “to be reduced” include spending time in baby bouncers, strollers and car seats, and watching TV.   Recommendations encouraged for infants include swimming with parents and playing on baby gym mats.  Time on a mat encourages rolling, crawling, and many motor skills which exercise baby’s muscles.

This is the first time the U.K. has issued guidelines toward the under 5 population.  To date, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not issued any recommendations for infants and children under the age of 5.  Last month The Institute of Medicine, which advises the U.S. government on health issues, released recommendations for infants and toddlers as part of an obesity prevention campaign.  The report recommended adults give infants under 6 months of age daily tummy time exercise.  In our previous articles on “tummy time,” we discussed how the exercises during tummy time strengthen many muscles such as the neck, back, and arms.  Tummy time is indeed vigorous baby exercise!  Both tummy time and swim time for babies provide great exercise and help prevent obesity.


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