British Columbia

Study says parents may be aware of kids' low activity but need help changing it

Knowledge is power, right? A UBC Okanagan study has found knowledge might not be enough for parents who want their kids to become more active.

UBC Okanagan study looked at 2011 Participaction campaign that saw mixed results

Kids are supposed to get 60 minutes of exercise every day but only seven per cent actually do. (CBC)

New research from UBC-Okanagan suggests parents made aware of how inactive their kids had become were less likely to have confidence getting them off the couch.

Heather Gainforth, an assistant professor of health and exercise sciences, looked at Participaction's 2011 "Think Again" campaign, which was designed to make parents aware of how kids needed 60 minutes of exercise a day.

The campaign encouraged parents to think about whether their kids were among the seven per cent of children getting enough exercise, when more than 88 per cent of the parents thought their kids were already in that group.

"What we found was the campaign was really effective at increasing awareness," she told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.

"But when we looked at whether or not they were confident to promote physical activity to their kids, they were actually having some challenges with that.

"So, it really lets us know we need to start helping parents be able to promote physical activity, and we need some public policy and programs to help them."

Gainforth says the exact "challenges" weren't examined by her study, but she suspects it may have been pushback from the kids themselves.

She says that suggests campaigns like "Think Again" work in getting parents involved but need to go further by giving parents knowledge of how to make physical activity a reality.

She says such tools do exist, but the challenge is getting them into parents' hands.

Gainforth's research was published in the journal Health Education and Behaviour's September issue.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Study says parents may be aware of kids' low activity, but need help to change it