Research Shows Light Physical Activity Crucial in Combating Childhood Obesity/Pexels
Research Shows Light Physical Activity Crucial in Combating Childhood Obesity
New research, detailed in Nature Communications and led by Dr. Andrew Agbaje of the University of Exeter, highlights a pivotal finding: engaging in light physical activity, rather than just focusing on moderate-to-vigorous activities, could reverse the alarming trend of childhood obesity.
Examining 6,059 11-year-old participants until the age of 24 from the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s study, the research discovered a concerning rise in sedentary time, reaching approximately nine hours a day in young adulthood from six hours in childhood. Simultaneously, light physical activity decreased significantly from six hours to three hours a day.
The study’s remarkable finding indicates that light physical activity, such as long walks, house chores, and slow-paced activities like dancing or swimming, plays a critical role in curbing fat mass gain. Each minute spent in light physical activity was associated with a substantial reduction—3.6 grams—in total body fat mass.
In contrast, the previously recommended moderate-to-vigorous physical activity failed to show the same efficacy in reducing fat mass. The study suggests that despite meeting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended 60 minutes a day, the impact on reducing fat mass was notably lower—70 to 170 grams reduction compared to the 950 grams to 1.5kg reduction achieved through light physical activity.
The implications are significant, especially considering the rise in childhood obesity globally. Sedentary time was found to contribute substantially to fat mass gain, potentially accounting for seven to ten percent of the total fat mass increase from childhood to young adulthood.
Dr. Agbaje emphasized the need to reframe health guidelines, advocating for a shift towards recognizing the importance of sustained participation in light physical activities to combat childhood obesity. These findings underscore the urgency for policymakers, health experts, parents, and pediatricians to promote and encourage consistent engagement in light physical activities to safeguard children’s health and well-being.