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New study demonstrates a lack of high quality studies investigating physical activity and brain health in children with potential bias towards promoting benefits of physical activity.  

International and national committees have started to evaluate the evidence for the effects of physical activity on neurocognitive health in childhood and adolescence to inform policy. Despite an increasing body of evidence, such reports have shown mixed conclusions. A new paper aims to critically evaluate and synthesise the evidence for the effects of chronic physical activity on academic achievement, cognitive performance and the brain in children and adolescents. The study concluded that there is inconsistent evidence for chronic physical activity-related effects on cognitive-, academic-, and brain outcomes and that effort should be focused on improving study quality.

Speaking about the study, Dr Wilby Williamson, Assistant Professor, Physiology, Trinity College Dublin, one of the authors said: "Without high quality research, how can we drive evidence based child health policy and health interventions? It's not enough to simply state that exercise is good for brain development or improves attention in school. Let's make sure we can back that up with high quality, robust studies that can be translated into practice. Academics and health professionals have work to do to improve the quality of physical activity research studying child brain health. Funders?! Well they need to start thinking about the long game. What's going to be the global impact of current levels of childhood physical inactivity?" 

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