Too much time in front of TV and computer screens is taking its toll on children in St Helens, according to health chiefs.
Public Health England say there is a direct link between children’s screen time - and couch potato lifestyle - and lower levels of well-being.
A new report says that higher levels of TV viewing are also having a negative effect on children’s well-being, including lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.
Children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games also tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression.
Statistics show the problem is a nationwide one and the paper has been released as a new Change4Life campaign encourages families to use the back to school period to adopt healthier behaviours.
Smart Restart outlines five everyday changes for families to focus on for the next six weeks to half term, including reducing screen time, eating healthier lunches and being more active.
The briefing reveals that children doing more physical activity are more likely to concentrate better in school, enjoy good relationships with classmates and display lower levels of worry, anxiety and depression.
St Helens Council’s director of public health, Liz Gaulton, said: “The council puts a high priority on the well-being of our young people and have a number of programmes.
“Just 20 per cent of UK children engage in more than an hour of physical activity per day. This is not acceptable and we are totally committed to helping halt this trend.”