MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who play on three or more sports teams are much less likely to be overweight or obese than their peers who don't play a sport, new research finds.
The study also found that high school students who walk or ride a bike to school are less likely to be obese -- but not less likely to be overweight -- than their bus-riding counterparts. And, the research shows that school physical education programs don't alter the risk of obesity or of being overweight.
"If parents are truly interested in preventing overweight and obesity, getting their kids to join one or more sports teams may be an effective way to do that," said the study's lead author, Keith Drake, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hood Center for Children and Families at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Lebanon, N.H.
"It really might be worth all that driving you'll have to do, because playing sports has a healthy impact on weight," Drake said.
In the United States, more than one-third of high school students are overweight or obese, according to background information in the study.
Results of the study, released online July 16, will be published in the August print issue of Pediatrics.
The study, conducted through telephone surveys, included more than 1,700 high school students from New Hampshire and Vermont and their parents. They were asked about extracurricular activities and sports, transportation to school, and their TV and computer habits. Other questions covered weight, height, diet quality and family demographics, such as race and parental education.
Almost 30 percent (498 teens) were overweight or obese. Thirteen percent were obese, according to the study.
The researchers found that playing on three or more sports teams, which have regular practices and competitions, was linked to a 27 percent lower risk
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