Your kid is fat because he/she is not active enough. Granted, sitting inside on the couch playing video games is probably not a recipe for good health, although it does improve decision making.
But is looks like health gurus are muddling up cause and consequence.
Fat kids are inactive….
There is no disputing this – fat kids do move a lot less than thin kids. But just because fatter individuals are less physically active, does not mean they started out that way.
In all honesty, dragging around a couple of extra kilos, requires a lot more energy and willpower, so it makes sense that tubby kids, prefer to minimize movement.
Investigating causes and consequences
A team from Peninsula Medical School in the UK have been keeping tabs on a cohort of kids for several years.
The study began when the kids were 5 years old. 307 children were initially enrolled in the study, the kids came from the primary schools in the Plymouth area.
Each year, the weight of the child was measured, the percentage body fat was assessed and the kid was strapped up to an accelerometer for a week, to keep tabs on how much moving was taking place.
This procedure was repeated every year, starting when the kids were 7 and continued for 4 years, until the kids were 10 years old. In the end, the team had complete sets of data for 207 of the children.
Inactivity is a consequence not a cause
The study showed as the % body fat increased – the amount of physical activity decreased, confirming fat kids don’t move as much as their skinny counterparts.
BUT, how fat a kid got, had nothing to do with how much they were moving or not moving. Physical activity was unrelated to % body fat.
Being more active won’t melt away the pounds
If lack of physical activity never caused the problem, then prescribing extra physical activity is probably not going to fix the problem.
To be honest, a quick glance through the scientific literature suggests kids can’t run their way to thinness.
Fat kids are not couch potatoes
Of course, this study doesn’t really answer the question why fat kids are fat. But it seems that obese kids are not just simply couch potatoes.
Moving more has merit for everyone, but the fix for childhood obesity is not going to come from the sports field.
The out of balance energy equation needs to be tackled on the energy in side and even this is probably is not as simple as eating less. Calories are not created equal and obesity is more than just a problem of excess energy.Fatness leads to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to fatness: a longitudinal study in children (EarlyBird 45). Archives of Disease in Childhood (2011) 96:942-947 B. S. Metcalf, J. Hosking, A. N. Jeffery, L. D. Voss, W. Henley, T. J. Wilkin.
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