The impact of movement behaviour on the health and development of very young children was on the agenda at a recent seminar held at the University of Huddersfield that is set to lead to more global collaboration.

The University was delighted to welcome Professor Alex Florindo from Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo, the second-ranked university in Latin America, as a guest speaker at the ‘Early Years movement behaviour and development: a window of opportunity’ seminar event.

Prof Florindo is a leading researcher in Brazil in the area of Physical Activity and Public Health and has been collaborating with Huddersfield’s Dr Liane Azevedo since 2021. He is on the Leadership Committee team of the SUNRISE study, a surveillance system exploring movement behaviours in under-fives in 43 countries.

“Our research explores physical activities, sedentary behaviour and sleep patterns in children aged five and under, relating them to cognitive and motor development,” says Dr Azevedo. “We are keen to learn more about the issue of movement behaviour in developing countries to promote interventions and compare with what we know from developed countries like the UK.”

Dr Liane Azevedo (left) and Professor Alex Florindo Dr Liane Azevedo (left) and Professor Alex Florindo

The seminar also discussed the increased use of digital devices and physical inactivity for under-fives particularly during the global COVID-19 pandemic. There is some initial evidence that the lockdowns affected children social, cognitive and motor development, particularly those who did not attend early childhood education settings.

Ongoing impact of COVID-19

“Children have had two years of either missing school or being massively disrupted,” Dr Azevedo adds. “There is evidence that suggests the importance of play and interaction on children’s development. We need to further investigate how the lockdowns affect children behaviour and their overall development.”

She also highlighted that nowadays parents spent considerably more time with their electronic devices and might be interacting less with children, which could have an impact on children’s development.

“Overall, Alex’s visit has been incredibly beneficial for the university,” adds Dr Azevedo. “We attracted many people to the talk, both remotely and in person, and there is potential for alex to collaborate with many others from our university around this issue.

“This international aspect is important for our research, as it helps us to gain new perspectives of our research and build relationships which could maximise the impact of our research.”

Main photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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