Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : GS-III Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
No Set Found with this ID

Why in News?

  • The United Nations released its first-ever recommendations on physical activity for children under five, with disputed advice on subjects ranging from screen time to “tummy time”.


  • The guidelines from the World Health Organization
  • may read to some parents like common-sense practices, including not exposing babies under one-year-old to screens.
  • “This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime,” WHO’s point person for
  • childhood obesity and physical activity, said in a statement.
  • But several experts noted that WHO’s broad recommendations were based on thin
  • evidence, and chastised the agency for adopting overly simplistic definitions of key terms, notably “sedentary screen time”. With obesity posing a rising public health threat and 80 percent of adolescents “not sufficiently physically active,” WHO said it was time to outline best practices for children under five — a crucial period for lifestyle development.

‘Tummy time’

  • Despite acknowledging that its “strong recommendations” were based on “very low quality evidence,” the UN health agency said its advice could apply to all young children, regardless of gender, cultural background or socio-economic status.
  • For infants under one, the WHO recommends at least 30 minutes of physically activity a day, including prone position — or tummy time — for those not yet mobile.
  • Babies under one should also not be restrained in a pram, highchair or strapped to someone’s back for more than an hour at a time and should sleep between 12 and 17 hours a day, the agency said.
  • For children between one and two years old, WHO recommends three hours of physical activity each day, with no more than an hour of “sedentary screen time” and at least 11 hours of sleep.
  • And for children aged three to four, three hours of daily physical activity should include at least an hour of “moderate to vigorous” movement, while screen time should be kept under an hour.

‘Lots of science to do’

  • By addressing the low quality of the evidence, WHO was simply being “transparent that there is still lots of science to do in emerging area of importance,”
  • Director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, agreed that while restricting young children’s screen time appeared to “make sense… in many ways the conclusions drawn about screens are out of step with scientific evidence of harm.”
  • Not all screen time is created equal,” he added, urging further study on the various types of screen-based activities available to children and their impacts.


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health
  • Established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and its headquarters are located at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.
Share Socially