Exercise in young children has little impact on obesity

A study published in the BMJ has shown that physical activity is unlikely to produce a significant effect in reducing levels of obesity in pre-school children.

Lack of activity in children
The researchers studied children (545 children with an average age of 4.2 years) who took part in nursery-based activities comprising three, 30-minute sessions each week. The parents of the children were also given advice on how to increase physical activity at home.

BMI readings were taken at six months and then at one year. The children were also assessed to see if the increased activity led to a reduction in sedentary behaviour or an increase in physical activity.

The increased level of exercise had little effect on the BMI or the activity behaviours of the children. However, it did help their motor and movement skills.

The researchers suggest that preventing obesity in early childhood may require change in the ‘wider environment’ rather than just at school and at home, and changes to diet are required.

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