Objectives: To examine the effects of exercise training on paediatric obesity immediately after training and at a one year follow up and to provide recommendations for future research.
Methods: Studies that met the following criteria were included in a meta-analysis: (a) at least six subjects per group; (b) subject groups consisting of children in the 4–17 year age range; (c) pre-test and post-test values for body composition; (d) used exercise such as walking, jogging, cycle ergometry, high repetition resistance exercise, and combinations; (e) training programmes lasting eight weeks or more; (f) full length publications; (g) apparently healthy children.
Results: A total of 135 studies of exercise as a method of treatment of paediatric obesity were located. Eight, containing 236 subjects, met our criteria for inclusion. Across all designs and categories, fixed effects modelling yielded significant decreases in the dependent variable percentage body fat immediately (0 = 1.04 (0.35); 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.41 to 1.6) and one year after the exercise intervention (0 = 0.84 (0.51); 95% CI 0.22 to 0.94). Forward stepwise linear regression suggested that the percentage body fat measured at the end of exercise training, exercise duration, and programme length accounted for 53–86% of the variance for percentage body fat at one year.
Conclusions: These data indicate that exercise is efficacious for reducing percentage body fat in obese children and adolescents, and that exercise intervention may encourage long term maintenance of the observed gains.
- body fat
- body weight
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