(NBC News) – Could making your kid play outside help prevent nearsightedness later? A Chinese study published Tuesday suggests it can.

With 30 percent of Americans suffering from myopia, and closer to 40 percent of the population in Asia, it’s a question worth exploring.

People tend to believe that too much “close work,” such as sewing or reading in poor light, might be the culprit. Other studies suggest time outdoors can reduce the rates of myopia. Scientists know that some combination of genetic risks and childhood activities are playing a role.

So a team in China decided to try their own version of studies showing that time spent outside might help.

They found 12 schools willing to take part in the experiment. Half the schools assigned their first-graders to an extra period of outside recess for every day of the school year. Half didn’t. In all, 1,900 first graders, aged 6 and 7, took part in the three-year-long experiment.


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