No exercise, more than lying around, tied to fat in kids

Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:23am IST

Related Topics

(Reuters) - For children, time spent actually inactive - such as lying on the couch - appears to have less of an impact on how much body fat they have than a lack of exercise does, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers, whose study appeared in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that the more minutes children spent exercising at the pace of a fast walk each day, the lower their percentage of body fat. But the time they spent lying around made no difference.

"Our study supports the current physical activity guideline, that's what I want people to know," lead author Soyang Kwon, a pediatric researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago, told Reuters Health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and teens exercise at least at the intensity of a fast walk, about 5.6 kilometers per hour (3.5 miles per hour), for 60 minutes every day.

Last year, a study in adults found a different result: regular exercise doesn't protect against the dangers of sitting for many hours at desk jobs. This is likely because children are more active than adults overall.

"In adults, where the activity levels are generally less, the time spent sedentary may have more of an effect," said Russell Pate, who studies physical activity in children at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Kwon and her coauthors from the University of Iowa used data from a study in that state that followed children of various ages from 2000 to 2009.

A group of 277 boys and 277 girls were measured at eight, 11, 13 and 15 years old for body composition and fat content using a precise X-ray technique originally developed to assess bone density.

The same children wore an accelerometer, which measures body movement, for several days in a row sometime in the same year.

Even among children who exercised the least, the amount of time sitting didn't make much of a difference.

For the 13-year-olds, those who sat less than, more than or equal to the average six and a half hours per day all had about the same body fat mass.

But boys who spend the least amount of time in moderate to vigorous activity had about 5 kilograms (11 pounds) more body fat on average than those who exercised the most. For 13-year-old girls, the low level exercisers had about 3.2 kg (7 lbs) more body fat than the exercisers.

Results were similar in every age group, but the researchers did not record if each child was overweight or not.

In a previous study, the same team of researchers found that even light intensity activity, like walking, every day, was linked to lower levels of fat in teens, but not young children.

"Parents should encourage their children to be physically active, the more the better," said Ulf Ekelund, who studies obesity risk factors in children at the Norwegian School of Sport Science in Oslo. "That might sound simple, but the execution isn't so simple sometimes." SOURCE: bit.ly/RKmMd9

(Reporting from New York by Kathryn Doyle at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

FILED UNDER:

Ebola Crisis

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage