Exercise Programs May Not Be Effective for Fighting Childhood Obesity
Health experts have been looking for solutions to the childhood obesity crisis. A number of health professionals have developed exercise programs that they encourage parents and schools to incorporate into children’s daily lives. However, a new report from Britain has shown that these programs may not be effective at helping children maintain a healthy weight.
The study was led by Brad Metcalf, a statistician who heads the department of endocrinology and metabolism at Peninsula College. Metcalf and his peers were surprised by the findings of the study. Exercise programs don’t help children become active enough to reduce their body mass indexes. Metcalf said that health experts will need to find a solution that actually works as they search for a solution to the childhood obesity crisis.
Metcalf studied more than 14,000 children from around the world. Previous researchers relied on formal interviews to gauge children’s level of physical activity. Metcalf said those studies were not very reliable. His team focused their study on children who wore motion sensors, which he felt would yield more accurate data.
A number of experts challenged Metcalf’s view. They have stated that the study doesn’t necessarily prove that physical activity is ineffective at reducing body mass indexes. They argue that policy makers will need to look for new solutions and perhaps analyze existing exercise programs. Rather than dismissing physical activity as ineffective, they may need to take new measures to make physical activity a societal norm.
According to David Katz of Yale University, many of these programs are used as a last resort for obese children. Children may be encouraged to participate in an exercise programs, but aren’t given the resources or support needed to change their lives in other ways. Children may be encouraged to exercise more during the sessions the program takes place, but revert to a sedentary lifestyle throughout the rest of the week. Katz said that lawmakers will need to help develop the proper cultural environment that encourages children to be more physically active in their daily lives, as well as eating healthily.
A number of critics have also disputed the accuracy of Metcalf’s findings. He analyzed more than 30 reports from other researchers throughout the world. Some of his colleagues point out that the problem with these metadata studies is that a couple of flawed studies can bias the data of the larger study.
Mark Hamer is one of Metcalf’s peers who wrote a similar piece in another medical journal. Hamer said that Metcalf”s study did have some flaws. However, he believes that it is the most accurate study that has been conducted to date.
[box type="note"]The medical community has been skeptical of Metcalf’s findings, but feel researching this phenomenon is extremely important. They are likely to conduct other studies in the future.[/box]