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Ostracized Children Are Less Likely To Be Physically Active

2/6/2012  

In a small study, researchers found that children who are ostracized, even for a brief period, are significantly more likely to choose sedentary activities over physical activity. For the study, “The Effect of Simulated Ostracism on Physical Activity Behavior in Children,” in the March 2012 Pediatrics (published online Feb. 6), researchers from Kent State University in Ohio asked 19 children between the ages of 8 and 12 years to play a virtual ball-toss computer game, telling each child he or she was playing the game over the Internet with two other children. In half of the sessions, the game was programmed to exclude the child from receiving the ball for the majority of the game. In the other sessions, the child received the ball one-third of the time. 

Each child in the study played the game twice, once under each condition. After the game, the children were taken to a gymnasium, where they could choose any sedentary or physical activity they liked, while wearing an accelerometer. Researchers found children accumulated 22 percent fewer accelerometer counts and 41 percent more minutes of sedentary activity after being ostracized in the computer game, compared to when they were included. Study authors conclude that the results provide causal evidence that ostracism may reinforce behaviors that lead to obesity in children. 

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.