Physical exercise alone is not sufficient to cut down body mass among pre-school children, a change in diet and behavior is needed to curb the effects of obesity, says a recent study.
A team of researchers from Glasgow undertook a large study on 545 four year old children, who participated in 30-minute exercise classes three times a week for six months. In addition to this, their parents were given guidance on increasing physical play at home. It was noted that there was little change in the body mass index, a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height.
“Successful interventions to prevent obesity in early childhood may require changes not just at nursery, school and home but in the wider environment,'' the study's authors concluded. “Further research is needed to identify successful and sustainable interventions for prevention of obesity and promotion of physical activity in young children.”
Eating healthy food and an hour of physical activity are necessary to avoid obesity and are the foundations of good health.
Childhood obesity, medical condition affecting children, is characterized by a weight well above the mean for their height and age and a body mass index above the norm. Childhood obesity is considered by many to be an ‘epidemic’ in the Commonwealth Countries and the USA (especially the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia). Over 15% of American children are currently considered obese, and the number is growing.
Extreme body weight is associated with various diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. Obesity also causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high insulin levels.
Experts say that the number of obese children is increasing world wide and so are their health problems.
“It's crucial to encourage good exercise habits from an early age,'' said Mike Knapton, director of Prevention and Care at the British Heart Foundation in a prepared statement. “What this study does reinforce is that we need to try and get the whole package right from the earliest years, not just one lifestyle aspect.”
However, it was noted that the classes improved the motor and movement skills of the children. The researchers said that the improvement will help the children to carry out physical activities with confidence and ability, which could affect long-term levels of body fat.
The study said that the classes did not prove fruitful in cutting down body mass and this was due to the fact that various other factors help to reduce body fat.
Based on current trends, one million children will be obese by 2010, experts estimate.