A new Canadian study suggests parents need to take a more active role in getting their children to exercise as public awareness campaigns are proving inadequate.

In fact, parents exposed to one such national campaign were actually less confident they could increase their children’s activity levels.

“With statistics outside this study showing 88 percent of parents believe their children exercise enough and only seven percent of kids meet recommended guidelines, it is clear more needs to be done,” says Heather Gainforth, an assistant professor of health and exercise sciences at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus.

“While mass media campaigns appear to increase awareness, parents need the support of public policies and programs to help them successfully encourage behavior change.

“Without that support, parents may not have the tools they need to help their kids become more active.”

In her study, Gainforth surveyed 700 parents of children aged five to 17 across Canada three months after ParticipACTION’s 2011 “Think Again” campaign aired, and another 700 parents 15 months after.

Gainforth’s discovered that parents who saw the campaign were on average less confident that they could encourage their kids to exercise more.

Her findings appear in the journal of Health, Education and Behaviour.

The campaign was designed to raise awareness among parents of physical activity guidelines, which call for kids to get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), a lack of exercise is one of the contributing factors that has led more than 25 percent of Canadian children to become overweight or obese.

Weight problems, according to the PHAC, are a contributor to increased incidents of Type II diabetes and high blood pressure in children and young people.

Source: University of British Columbia/EurekAlert