Kids Kept Indoors Due to Poor Clothing Choices

FRIDAY Nov. 13, 2009 -- Inappropriate clothing can limit or prevent young children's outdoor physical activity, a U.S. study has found.

Researchers looked at 53 child-care providers from 34 child-care centers in Cincinnati to determine why children's physical activity levels may vary across centers. They were surprised to find that clothing could be a major barrier to outdoor activity.

Clothing that limited or prevented outdoor activity included: inadequate weather protection, such as a lack of coats and gloves in the winter; unsuitable footwear, such as flip flops; and "nice" or expensive outfits that had to be treated with care.

Having a few children with inappropriate clothing could prevent an entire day-care class from going outside to play, the researchers said.

Children's clothing choices were a significant source of conflict between parents and child-care providers, the study authors noted. Reasons why parents may dress children inappropriately include: forgetfulness, a hectic morning routine, limited income to buy clothes, a child's preference for a favorite piece of clothing, and parents failing to understand the importance of outdoor play.

The study findings, published online Nov. 6 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, suggest that parents need to be educated about the importance and benefits of outdoor play for their children's development.

"Child-care centers should consider instigating clear and specific policies regarding the type of clothes permitted at these centers so that children's active play opportunities aren't curtailed," study leader Dr. Kristen Copeland, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

Posted: November 2009


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