Globally, obesity is affecting an increasing proportion of children. Physical activity plays an important role in the prevention of becoming overweight and obese in childhood and adolescence, and reducing the risk of obesity in adulthood. Puberty and the following adolescent period are acknowledged as particularly vulnerable times for the development of obesity due to sexual maturation and, in many individuals, a concomitant reduction in physical activity. In many Western settings, a large proportion of children and adolescents do not meet recommended physical activity guidelines and, typically, those who are more physically active have lower levels of body fat than those who are less active. Active behaviours have been displaced by more sedentary pursuits which have contributed to reductions in physical activity energy expenditure. Without appropriate activity engagement there is an increased likelihood that children will live less healthy lives than their parents. Owing to the high risk of overweight adolescents becoming obese adults, the engagement of children and adolescents in physical activity and sport is a fundamental goal of obesity prevention.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.