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We examined physical activity and screen time at baseline in a weight management trial for overweight/obese youth aged 8–18 years with mental illness receiving specialty mental health services. Only approximately one-tenth of the study sample met physical activity guidelines of at least 60 min/day of physical activity and eight percent met the screen time recommendation of less than 2 hours per day. Overall, only one percent of participants met both daily physical activity and screen time recommendations. These are lower than rates reported in the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle, and the Environment where 7.2% of U.S. children and 14.5–20.8% of children in industrialized countries aged 9–11 years met both physical activity and screen time recommendations [15]. In the current study only 15% of 8–12-year-olds met physical activity guidelines, which is substantially lower than national estimates of between 26.5% and 42% of pre-teen youth reporting meeting physical activity guidelines [15,25]. Interestingly, only 8% of youth above the age of 12 in the general population met the guidelines, which aligned with the findings in our study [25]. This is one of the first reports of objectively measured physical activity levels among children with mental illness using specialty mental health services. These results substantiate that national concerns regarding low levels of physical activity among youth should be heightened in this group with mental illness.

Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8871648/