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Clin J Sport Med. 2006 Jan;16(1):51-5.

Overweight children reduce their activity levels earlier in life than healthy weight children.

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  • 1Children's Exercise and Nutrition Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. gillisl@hhsc.ca



To determine differences in the time overweight and nonoverweight youth spend on light, moderate, hard, and very hard activity plus gender and age differences in activity patterns.


This study was a cross-sectional design in a primary care hospital.


A total of 197 children and adolescents (4-16 years) participated. The overweight group (n = 107) were on a waiting list for an obesity treatment program and were defined as overweight, with a body mass index >95th percentile, and the nonoverweight group (n = 90) were volunteers recruited via advertisements and had a body mass index <75th percentile. INTERVENTIONS AND OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: To determine activity patterns and perception of activity level, an interview was conducted with the child and a parent using a validated 7-day recall. Body fat was measured with bioelectrical impedance.


There was a negative correlation between adiposity and total amount of activity performed, with the amount of moderate activity the best predictor of obesity. Girls did less activity than boys whether overweight or not. Between the ages of 4 and 7 years, overweight and nonoverweight subjects did similar amounts of activity. In the older subjects, the activity of the overweight was less than in nonoverweight. The overweight subjects perceived themselves to be just as active as others their same age and sex.


Clinicians need to be aware that overweight children and adolescents are less active than nonoverweight children at an earlier age, particularly females, but feel that their activity level is similar to that of nonobese children.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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