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Inactivity doesn't lead to childhood obesity

Obesity may lead to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to obesity, says a new study.

A new report from the EarlyBird Diabetes Study suggests that physical activity has little, if any, role to play in the obesity epidemic among children.

Obesity is the key factor behind diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

EarlyBird is based at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth in Britain and has been observing in detail a group of school children for 11 years.

A review published in 2009 about the trials using physical activity to reduce childhood obesity showed weight loss amounting to just 90 grams over three years.

The EarlyBird study wanted to know why the trials were so ineffective. So they challenged some popular paradigms.

It is well known that less active children are fatter, but that does not mean - as most people assume - that inactivity leads to fatness.

It could equally well be the other way round: that obesity leads to inactivity, said a statement from the medical school.

And this is the question EarlyBird was placed to answer. With data collected over several years from a large cohort of children, it could ask the question - which comes first?

Does the physical activity of the child precede changes in fatness over time, or does the fatness of the child precede changes in physical activity over time?

And the answer is that physical activity had no impact on weight change, but more weight clearly led to less activity.

These findings appeared in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

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