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Ambul Pediatr. 2008 Nov-Dec;8(6):392-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Association of bicycling and childhood overweight status.

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Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.



Obesity is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Although it is accepted that diet and exercise practices are important, there is little data to discern the contributions of specific activities toward a healthy body weight. We sought to identify associations between bicycling and overweight status and to compare this with other physical activities and dietary practices thought to be protective against overweight status.


We constructed a survey to gather dietary and activity practices in a cross-sectional, convenience sample of 100 children presenting to an urban hospital setting in Baltimore, Maryland. We chose to emphasize bicycling because it is a widely available activity that requires a sustained level of moderate energy expenditure, yet little is known about the relationship of this particular activity with childhood overweight status.


The mean age of our population was 11.8 years and 56% were overweight (body mass index>85 percentile). Most (96%) knew how to ride a bike and 80% reported owning a bike. Children who rode a bike just once a week or less were the most likely to be overweight (multivariate-adjusted odds ratio 6.6, 95% confidence interval, 2.1-21). This association was stronger than for all other dietary and activity practices. We found that approximately half of our participants do not eat breakfast, fruits, or vegetables regularly. More than half never ride a bike to school, walk to school, or participate in any organized sport.


Riding a bicycle at least 2 or more days during the week is associated with a decreased likelihood of being overweight during childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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