Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Scheduling more physical education time in schools does not mean children will increase their activity levels, suggests new research that discovered those who got lots of timetabled exercise at school compensated by doing less at home while those who got little at school made up for it by being more active at home.
The scientists, who presented their research Thursday at the European Congress on Obesity, found that the total weekly physical activity among children attending different schools was much the same despite large differences in the amount of time allocated to PE. The researchers propose it's not the environment that drives physical activity levels in children, but some form of central control in the brain similar to appetite an 'activitystat'.
"These findings have implications for anti-obesity policies because they challenge the assumption that creating more opportunity for children to be active by providing more playgrounds, sports facilities and more physical education time in schools will mean more physical activity," said the study's analyst, Alissa Frmeaux, a biostatistician at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in Plymouth, UK. "If health strategists want to alter the physical activity of children, it is important that they first understand what controls it."
The researchers studied 206 children from three primary schools (age 7 years) with widely different amounts of timetabled physical education. Children attending one school got on average 9.2 hours a week of scheduled PE, while those at the second school got 2.4 hours a week and those at the third got just 1.7 hours in a week.
The study is the first to track the school activity patterns of children repeatedly over a long period of time using accelerometers, gadgets that record clock time and duration as well as intensity of activity. The children wore the accelerometer the gold standard for measuring phy
|Contact: Emma Ross|
European Association for the Study of Obesity