Research suggests children are more active and spend more time playing outside if evenings are lighter, regardless of weather and shifting Britain’s clocks forward by one hour throughout the year could help fight childhood obesity.
The research, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, studied the activity levels of 325 children in south-east England aged between eight and 11.
A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London found the children did more exercise outside on longer days, particularly at the end of the day during summer, regardless of the weather.
Outdoor play was a bigger factor in overall physical activity than other factors such as structured sport sessions and cycling or walking to school, the team says.
Co-researcher Dr Anna Goodman, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the BBC: “This provides the most direct evidence yet that changing the clocks so that there is more daylight in the afternoon could increase children’s physical activity.”
She added: “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 public health argument for the Daylight Saving Bill currently under consideration by the House of Commons, which proposes putting the clocks forward by an extra hour all year round.”