Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fatter children also less fit: study

Fatter children also less fit: study
By Sophie Scott

A new study shows that as children have become fatter, they have also become less fit.

Researchers from the University of South Australia looked at the fitness levels of 70 million children around the world over the past 40 years.

They found kids' fitness increased until the 1970s, then started to spiral down by 5 per cent each subsequent decade.

"It suggests the children of today are some 15 per cent worse off or less able to perform for long periods of time than their parents were," Dr Grant Tomkinson, from the School of Health sciences, said.

The researchers monitored aerobic capacity and whether children could run for more than 10 minutes at a time.

The review found boys tended to lose their fitness quicker than girls, although the difference was not huge.

What has caused the drop off is children's growing waistlines and a lack of activity that gets the heart pumping.

"Children are less able to run over long distances because they are fatter," Dr Tomkinson said.

"Fitness is much worse today than it was 30 years ago and there is no evidence its slowing."

Dr John Dixon, from Monash University, says unfit and obese children face serious health risks.

"These kids develop often develop the sort of problems we expect to see in adults," he said.

"High blood pressure, insulin resistance, some even develop type two diabetes. Liver disease or sleep apnoea.

"It's surprising to see how ill they can be."

Kids need to accumulate an hour of activity each day to keep their fitness levels up.

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