Daily recreational screen time, sleep and exercise guidelines have been released for children and teenagers with parents encouraged to see how their children measure up.

Updated guidelines for school-aged young people (aged 5 to 17 years) have been released today by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sport NZ.

The broad guide for a "healthy 24 hours" is:

• No more than two hours per day of recreational screen time.


• Uninterrupted sleep of 9 to 11 hours a night for 5- to 13-year-olds, and 8 to 10 hours for 14- to 17-year-olds, with consistent bed and wake-up times.

• An accumulation of at least one hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, and for activities that strengthen bones and muscle, such as jumping and skipping, to be done at least three times a week.

• Sit less and move more often.

The guidelines say getting enough sleep, replacing indoor for outdoor time and swapping sedentary behaviours and light physical activity with moderate to vigorous physical activity can provide greater health benefits for young people.

For children not meeting the guidelines a "progressive adjustment" towards them is recommended.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the latest guidelines supported the childhood obesity plan, released in October 2015.

"The previous guidelines for children and young people were published a decade ago and were in need of updating.

"We know that good-quality sleep is associated with better emotional development and academic achievement ... up to one in four school-age children and one in five teenagers don't get enough sleep."


About 30 per cent of adults and 10 per cent of children are obese, although the rates are skewed by ethnicity. New Zealand has the third-highest rate of adult obesity of developed countries.

Diabetes expert Dr Robyn Toomath, author of the book Fat Science, why diets and exercise don't work - and what does, has criticised the government's obesity plan, and advocates making healthier choices the default option through policies such as a sugary-drink tax and cuts to sugar in children's foods.

The World Health Organisation Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, co-chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman, Prime Minister John Key's chief science adviser, made similar recommendations, including a sugary-drink tax and reducing the exposure of young people to the marketing of unhealthy food.