Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gym Class Doesn't Battle Bulge in Kids: Study

According to a B.C. study, phys-ed classes alone are insufficient in combating childhood obesity. In 13 trials involving nearly 10,000 kids, time spent that the kids spent in phys-ed classes had no effect on their Body Mass Indexes (BMI, a common measure to assess fat and weight).

Dr. Kevin Harris, a pediatric resident at B.C. Children's Hospital who was involved in this research said that "School-based physical activity interventions do not improve BMI". Despite this disappointing finding, the studies did find that bone mineral density and aerobic capacity were improved, as well as a notable reduction in blood pressure and increased flexibility in the kids.

All in all, it's not fair to completely knock the value of phys-ed in schools. Physical education, at the very least, teaches kids about physical activity and health, and gets them moving. As was noted above, there were marked improvements in other areas of the kids' health, just not in weight loss.

According to the researchers, phys-ed should not be looked at as a solution to childhood obesity; there are more deep-rooted reasons for this recently deemed epidemic. The researchers feel that nutritional education might be a better tactic to fight childhood obesity, teaching them healthy eating habits and behaviours, in combination with physical activity. As you might know, diet comprises roughly 80% of weight loss, and physical activity only the last 20%. Sounds like it's worth a try!