Obesity In 3-6 Year Olds Is Related to Socioeconomic Status But Not To Physical Activity Levels

sharma-obesity-kids-playing-outsideOne of the more persistent “myths” about obesity is that overweight and obese kids are big largely because of their reduced levels of physical activity.

As regular readers may recall, this was not borne out by previous surveys on physical activity, where the relationship between physical activity and body size have been rather inconsistent.

Now a paper by Vorwerg and colleagues from the University of Leipzig, Germany, published in PLoS One, again fails to find a significant relationship between physical activity levels and body weight in German pre-schoolers.

Thus, based on measurements of physical activity using accelerometers, boys generally clocked about an extra hour of vigorously activity per week compared to girls and overall activity levels were significantly lover on weekends than on weekdays.

However, there was no relationship between body weight and levels of physical activity or levels of daily media consumption.

Rather, both body weight and media consumption were inversely associated with decreasing socioeconomic class, which in fact, turned out to be the only variable that had an ‘independent’ impact on body weight.

Thus, the authors conclude that weight status of preschoolers is considerably influenced by socioeconomic factors, but not by physical activity levels.

These findings certainly do not argue against increasing physical activity levels in all pre-schoolers – this is sure to have many health benefits – just perhaps not on body weight.

Will the kids get fitter? Yes! Less fat? Probably not!

Edmonton, Alberta

ResearchBlogging.orgVorwerg Y, Petroff D, Kiess W, & Blüher S (2013). Physical Activity in 3-6 Year Old Children Measured by SenseWear Pro®: Direct Accelerometry in the Course of the Week and Relation to Weight Status, Media Consumption, and Socioeconomic Factors. PloS one, 8 (4) PMID: 23573273