Kids Should Get Moving to Avoid Obesity

Researchers confirm that vigorous activity every day can help combat childhood obesity.

A study conducted by Dr. Ulf Ekelund of the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, UK looked at 1,862 children who were between 9 and 10 years old. Of the 1,862 children studied, 23 percent were considered overweight or obese. Researchers examined the amount and intensity of activity the children engaged in each day, as well as their body mass index and waist size. The study also monitored how much time the children spent watching TV or using a computer each day.

For every 6.5 minutes a child in the study spent doing vigorous activity, researchers noted a 1.32-centimeter reduction in waist size. Examples of vigorous activities included playing ball, bicycling, or running around outside. Moderate-intensity activity, however, only yielded a half-centimeter reduction in waist size for every 13.6 minutes of activity.

Researchers concluded that time spent engaging in vigorous activity, along with their combined moderate activity-vigorous activity time, had the strongest ties to waist circumference and fat mass. It was noted that children should be encouraged to limit their sedentary time, but that the intensity of activity may also play a role in whether or not a child is overweight.