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Kids without supervision stay active

Children who go out of the house without adult supervision are likely to stay active and perform better, says a new study.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 22, 2007 16:57 IST

Children who go out of the house without adult supervision are likely to stay active, get health benefits and perform better in their social life than those who are constantly supervised, says a new study.

The research by University College London reported in a special edition of the journal 'Built Environment' looked at 330 students from two schools in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, all aged between 8 and 11.

Children completed the questionnaires, kept travel diaries, had their movements logged using global positioning system (GPS) monitors and wore portable motion sensors to measure their speed of travel, health portal The News Medical reported.

The scientists also recorded their changes in direction and the number of 'activity calories' they consumed.

Activity calories are those burnt during activities, rather than those used to maintain core bodily functions.

"We asked children whether they were allowed out without an adult and then looked at where they go and how they behave," Roger Mackett said.

In general, children who aren't constantly supervised, tend to leave the house more often - exploring their surroundings, playing with other children and using up more calories than their sedentary, housebound peers, Mackett said.

Children walk faster and take a more direct route when an adult is present, but they do not use more energy than unaccompanied children, it said.

This is because unsupervised children move in a more meandering fashion as they investigate their environment and socialise with other children, the study found.

"Letting a child out to play is one of the best things a parent can do for their child's physical health and personal development."

But the scientists warn that fears over road safety and "stranger danger" need to be balanced against soaring levels of childhood obesity and poor health.

"The health benefits are clear, but without action the less tangible benefits of increased independence, self-reliance and general 'growing up' are in danger of being lost."