The new study found that children whose closest friends are active will likely also engage in sports or other activities
The new study found that children whose closest friends are active will likely also engage in sports or other activities.
“Peer groups matter,” said lead author Sabina Gesell, a research assistant professor in pediatrics at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, reported Time.
“If your child is surrounding by children who are sedentary it will be difficult for that child to be more active. If they can find more active friends it will be easy to change their activity level.”
Researchers at Vanderbilt University tracked groups of friends between five and 12-years-old over three months.
They used a device that tracked the child’s muscle movements throughout the day.
CBC News reported that the biggest determinant to whether or not they were active was the influence of their four to six closest friends.
The more active their friends, the more active they were and vice versa.
Children, the study found, also adjusted their behaviour to meet the demands of their more active friends.
“We see evidence that the children are mirroring, emulating or adjusting to be similar to their friends,” said Gesell, reported the Globe and Mail.
“And that’s exciting because we saw meaningful changes in activity levels in 12 weeks.” It is estimated that one in five American children are obese. The new study was published in Pediatrics.