Exercise could prevent childhood obesity

Exercise could prevent childhood obesity

Parents of “healthy weight” children would do well to promote exercise so their kids can avoid the onset of obesity as researchers have found that physical activity can improve body composition.


Published: Sun 25 May 2014, 4:17 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:43 PM

“The (FITKids) study demonstrates the extent to which physical activity can improve body composition, and that is important because it matters to your health where fat is stored,” said Naiman Khan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois in the US.

“More than half the kids who participated were at a healthy weight, and that allowed us to observe how exercise or lack of exercise affected body composition in normal-weight and overweight children,” Khan added.

In the study, 220 eight- to nine-year-olds were assigned to either a nine-month physical activity intervention or a control group.

The intervention provided 70 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five days a week.

Baseline and follow-up cardiorespiratory fitness, per cent fat mass, per cent central fat mass, and estimated abdominal fat tissue were measured.

Although the control group displayed no change in cardiorespiratory fitness, kids in that group increased in per cent fat mass and abdominal fat tissue, Khan said.

“So the weight of healthy-weight children who do not exercise does not just remain stable. Normal-weight kids who do not exercise do gain an excess amount of weight for their age, and if they become overweight, the tendency is to store excess fat in their abdomens,” he said.

The study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.

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