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Exercising Won't Help Overweight Children Shed Pounds: Study

Update Date: Sep 29, 2012 09:50 AM EDT

A new British study suggests that making overweight children do more physical activity won't help them lose weight.

According to researchers from Plymouth University, who reviewed trials from 1990 to 2012 the 'exercise interventions' have a negligible effect. The researchers say that instead, cutting down calories in food intake might be more helpful.

For the study, the researchers looked at 30 randomized controlled trials, eight of which focused on overweight children. There were more than 14,000 children involved in the trials and each child had exercised at least for a week as a part of an intervention, Mail Online reported.

One of the trials had 729 children who exercised for 90 minutes, three times a week, in order to increase their physical activity.

Although each session, made up of 60 minutes of high intensity activity aimed at increasing physical activity, it was found by the researchers that by the time half of the trial got over, the children were only carrying out an extra five minutes of walking or running per day.

The researchers, during the analysis of another trial in Scotland, which went on for six months for 268 nursery school-aged children, found that the children actually became less active. The sessions were designed for three half-hour sessions per week.

"It could be that the intervention specific exercise sessions may simply be replacing periods of equally intense activity. For example, after-school activity clubs may simply replace a period of time that children usually spend playing outdoors or replace a time later in the day/week when the child would usually be active," the authors were quoted as saying by Mail Online.

They further said that the interventions hardly achieve any increased activity in children and hence have minimal impact on children's body fat.

According to lead author Brad Metcalf, there should be more emphasis on diet and healthy eating during weight-loss interventions.

In the light of the current study, the Department of Health has defended its own intervention programme saying ,"Our Change4life scheme is not just about encouraging people to do exercise, it is also about changing the way we all manage our daily intake of calories."

"That is why the Government has worked with lots of high street restaurants on a responsibility deal which has seen calories printed on menus so that everyone can make informed choices about their food," a department spokesman said.

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