MELBOURNE, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have uncovered a significant link between lifestyle and the quality of children's health, it was announced on Friday.
The study, published by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) on Friday, found that children who spent more time doing school work and less looking at screens were generally the healthiest.
By surveying over 1,400 Australian students aged 11 and 12 years old, researchers were able to establish four distinct groups based on how children were using their time.
Participants in the study were asked to fill out daily diaries detailing their time use over two separate 24-hour periods.
The health-related quality of life of each group was then established by a questionnaire that tested children on their overall quality of life as well as their mental and physical health.
The groups that emerged were studious active children, who had low screen time and the highest school-related time, the techno actives, who had the highest levels of physical activity and lowest level of school-related time, the stay-home screenies, who had the highest screen time and mostly stayed indoors, and the potterers, who reported low physical activity and moderate screen time.
Sleep was found to be consistent across all four groups.
Children in the stay-home screenies group were having up to eight hours of screen time in a 24-hour period while studious active children were having just one hour.
It was found that the potterers had the lowest scores across all three measures of health related quality of life while the studious actives had the best.
Kate Lycett, a co-author of the study, said that physical activity was found to be the most important single factor in determining a child's health but a healthy balance was crucial.
"The unique thing about this study is that we looked as time-use a whole whereas most studies look at one or two things," Lycett told Xinhua News on Friday.
"So what this study shows us that the balance of these activities is really important."
She said that 11 and 12 year olds were chosen for the study because those ages were key in a child's development.
"This is the time where children are transitioning into adolescence and we know that health behaviours that are established during this time track into adulthood so it's a really important time for children." Lycett said.
Researchers will now gather data from older age groups to investigate if the quality of life gap widens between the groups as they age.