Physical activity, leisure habits and obesity in first-grade children

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BACKGROUND: Overweight and obesity are already on the rise in early childhood years. The relationships between genetic factors, malnutrition and physical inactivity are the underlying mechanisms. In this study, we examine the association between body indices, motor abilities and active (sport) and passive (television/computer) leisure time activities in a cohort of first-grade pupils.

METHODS: The study group consisted of 344 children (51.5% male, 48.5% female). They were 6.8+/-0.4 years old, height was 123.9+/-4.9 cm, weight 24.8+/-5.0 kg, body mass index (BMI) 16.1+/-2.3 kg/m. After determination of the anthropometric data, a fitness test was performed in order to determine motor abilities. Parents were questioned about their children's leisure time activities, using a standardized questionnaire. Differences between BMI groups were evaluated using multivariate ANCOVA, adjusted for gender and age.

RESULTS: Based on German BMI references, overweight and obesity were found in 12% of the children. They had poorer results with respect to endurance (P<0.001), leg strength (P=0.002), co-ordination and balance (P=0.045) and spent more leisure time in watching television and at the computer (each P<0.001). No differences were found between their active leisure habits such as club sports.

DISCUSSION: Our examinations with first-grade children show no differences in active leisure habits between obese children and their counterparts, although the former had poorer results in motor abilities, but they spend more time on sedentary leisure habits like audiovisual media. A possible explanation is their fewer regular daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation : official journal of the European Society of Cardiology, Working Groups on Epidemiology & Prevention and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2004

ID: 154347

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