Current exercise levels for children may not combat obesity

Tuesday 14th October, 2008

Obesity is a growing problem among children in the UK but the current advice about the amount of time spent exercising may not be enough to combat the country’s expanding waist-line.

Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth have suggested that moderate exercise for at least one hour per day isn’t enough to overcome child obesity.

Dr Metcalf and his team studied 212 children aged between 5 and 8 across 54 Plymouth schools. The study period lasted for 4 years with researchers monitoring activity levels and BMI (body mass index). Waist size, metabolic health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels were also monitored.

Results showed that 11% of girls and 42% of boys were exercising for at least one hour per day. Physical activity levels varied with some children only managing 10 minutes of moderate activity while others exercised for over 90 minutes per day.

Dr Metcalf’s study found that exercise alone had no significant effect on controlling weight among the children. Those who carried out some exercise and met the recommended one hour per day level had, on average, lower cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin resistance.

“We are keen to stress that children should be encouraged to be active, because our study showed that regular exercise improved metabolic health even without improving body mass index,” said lead researcher Dr Brad Metcalf.



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