Our Focus on the Early Years
The Early Years (defined as ages 0-5 years) are arguably the most critical period in life for developing important physical, motor, social and cognitive skills. As a sensitive period of brain development, these years provide a window of opportunity where plasticity of the developing brain can be exploited to positively influence the trajectory of a child’s life in each of the skills areas mentioned above, and to reduce health inequities overall. However, it is also a period that despite advances in technology, we still know relatively little about movement behaviors in the Early Years.
Learning More About Movement Behaviors
Movement behaviors include a combination of sleep, sitting, standing, and different levels of physical activity, which are mostly in the form of play and other activities of daily living. We know little about how these behaviors – individually and in combination – influence one another and how they relate to healthy growth and development in children. The lack of information available is even more pronounced in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), many of which are in a period of rapid urbanization, and may further impact the healthy development of movement behaviors among this age group.
A Global Standard
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the prevention of obesity in young children as one of its key priorities for the 21st Century. Movement behaviors play a key role in better understanding how to accomplish this goal. In April 2019, the WHO released global guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep for children under the age of 5. Initial data collected from the first seven countries in SUNRISE show that around 30% of preschoolers (ages 3 and 4 years) meet all three of the daily movement guidelines:
At least 180 minutes of physical activity, of which at least 60 minutes is energetic play,
No more than 1 hour of sedentary screen time, and
10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep1, 2.
This means that the remaining 70% who are not meeting all three guidelines are at increased risk for poorer health and developmental outcomes3-6 and potentially poorer human capital development7.
For these reasons, it is important and timely to collect international data using the new WHO Global guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep as benchmarks in a range of countries. The SUNRISE International Surveillance Study of the 24-hour movement behaviors in the early years, specifically children ages 3-5, will provide the first such international data and help the global community move towards preventing young children from developing obesity and ensuring that they reach their developmental potential. For more information about the SUNRISE Study please click here.
1. Cliff DP, McNeill J, Howard S, et al. Adherence to 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (ages 0-4) and associations with social cognitive development among pre-school children from Wollongong, Australia BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 2. Chaput JP, Colley R, Janssen I, et al. Proportion of preschool-aged children meeting the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and associations with adiposity: Results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey. BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 3. Carson V, Lee E-Y, Hewitt L, et al. Systematic review of the relationships between physical activity and health indicators in the early years (aged 0-4 years). BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 4. Poitras VJ, Gray CE, Janssen X, et al. Systematic review of the relationships between sedentary behavior and health indicators in the early years (aged 0-4 years). BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 5. Chaput JP, CE G, VJ P, et al. Systematic review of the relationships between sleep duration and health indicators in children aged 0-4 years. BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 6. Kuzik N, Poitras VJ, Tremblay MS, et al. Systematic review of the relationships between the combinations of movement behaviors and health indicators in the early years (aged 0-4 years). BMC Public Health. 2017; in press.; 7. Black MM, Walker SP, Fernald LCH, et al. Early childhood development coming of age: science through the life course. The Lancet. 2017; 389(10064):77-90.