New York: Parents of "healthy weight" children would do well to promote exercise so their kids can avoid the onset of obesity as researchers have found that physical activity can improve body composition.
"The (FITKids) study demonstrates the extent to which physical activity can improve body composition, and that is important because it matters to your health where fat is stored,” said Naiman Khan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois in the US.
“More than half the kids who participated were at a healthy weight, and that allowed us to observe how exercise or lack of exercise affected body composition in normal-weight and overweight children," Khan added.
In the study, 220 eight- to nine-year-olds were assigned to either a nine-month physical activity intervention or a control group.
The intervention provided 70 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five days a week.
Baseline and follow-up cardiorespiratory fitness, percent fat mass, percent central fat mass, and estimated abdominal fat tissue were measured.
Although the control group displayed no change in cardiorespiratory fitness, kids in that group increased in percent fat mass and abdominal fat tissue, Khan said.
"So the weight of healthy-weight children who do not exercise does not just remain stable. Normal-weight kids who do not exercise do gain an excess amount of weight for their age, and if they become overweight, the tendency is to store excess fat in their abdomens," he said.
The study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.