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School physical activity may help prevent fat gain in boys

Schools offering three physical activity sessions a week may be more effective at preventing adiposity (fat gain) in children than schools offering just one session a week, claims a new UK study.

The ecological analysis performed by Professor Wardle and her team from University College, London, followed up children aged 11-12 years in 34 schools over a 5-year period to assess whether regular physical activity was helpful in preventing obesity. Twenty-five schools offered one session of physical activity a week, seven schools offered two sessions, while two boys’ schools offered three sessions.

The results showed that the number of physical activity sessions did not relate to Body Mass Index (weight for height) or waist circumference. However, boys at the two schools offering physical activity three times a week gained less fat around their waists over time than boys at schools offering less physical activity. The boys in more active schools gained, on average, around 3 cm less around the waist than boys in less active schools (P<0.001). This seems to suggest that school physical activity may help to protect against fat gain in the long term.

Increased fat gain around the waist is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

For more information, see
Wardle J et al (2007). School-based physical activity and changes in adiposity. International Journal of Obesity, Vol 31, pp 1464-1468.

EUFIC related material:
Health & Lifestyle-Food for all ages
Health & Lifestyle-Physical activity

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 24/08/2016
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