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How winter makes our children fatter

Child obesity could be reduced if the clocks did not go back in the winter, a study has shown.

Researchers said the study, which concluded that children are most physically active on longer days, is further evidence that winter clocks in Ireland -- and in Britain -- should be brought forward into line with Central European time -- for a trial period of three years, at least.

Scientists said that children aged between eight and 11 were most active between 5pm and 8pm during lighter evenings.

They measured the body movements of 325 children in their daily routine for 817 days over the four seasons and found children were most active on days with 14 or more hours of daylight.

Authors of the study, which is published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, said the trend remained constant -- regardless of the weather.

On long days, the children spent 22pc of their time taking part in "out-of-home play" in afternoons and early evenings, while the figure decreased to 13pc when the day became shorter.


One of the researchers for the journal, Dr Anna Goodman, said: "The fact that kids spend more time playing outdoors and are more physically active overall on these longer days could be important at a population level for promoting their fitness and in preventing child obesity.

"This strengthens the argument for putting the clocks forward by an extra hour all year round."

Summer Time ended here on Sunday, October 30, at 2am when the clocks went back by one hour.

It will remain as such until next March.

Moving to Central European Time would mean lighter winter evenings, which supporters claim would cut road deaths, boost tourism and reduce energy use.

But any change is likely to face strong opposition from many who do not relish the prospect of an extra hour of darkness in the morning.

The clocks' survey was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

At the moment the British government is currently supporting a plan for clocks there to go forward by one year all year round, for a three-year trial period.