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 Frémeaux, 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 physical activity in large population studies - all day, every day for 7 days during each of four consecutive school terms. The researchers analysed the intensity and amount of in-school physical activity, out-of-school activity and the amount of total weekly physical activity. Body measurements for body composition and blood samples for metabolic health were also taken for each child. The results were adjusted for age, gender, daylight hours and rainfall.
The researchers found that although the children attending the high-PE school did 40% more activity during school hours than the other children, their total weekly activity was no different from the others.
"There was, of course, a range in the amount of activity the children did at each school, but the range and it's average were the same regardless of what school they went to. We discovered that the children who got a lot of PE time at school were compensating by doing less at home, while those who got very little PE time compensated by cranking up their activity at home, so that over the week, they all accumulated the same amount," Frémeaux said. "We believe the range of activity among children, from the slothful to the hyperactive, reflects not the range in environmental opportunities, but the range of individual activity set-points in the brains of children."
Frémeaux pointed out that rodent experiments, as well as other observations in children and adults such as the same physical activity level in people from different geographical regions and between weekend and weekdays, lend support to the activitystat theory.
Frémeaux concluded: "There is plenty of evidence that the opportunities for children to be active have changed over recent years, but we cannot find the evidence that more opportunity means more activity."
Reference no: T1:PO.76, poster presentation, Hall 3, 0800 hrs CET Thursday – 14.30 hrs CET Saturday.
Emma Ross | EurekAlert!
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences