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Don’t be a sitting duck to diseases suggests a study to children

Posted:  Thursday, September 03, 2015

Do your children enjoy a 30 minute fix of their favourite cartoon on television? If yes, then make sure you encourage them to take short walking breaks to keep obesity and other health issues at bay suggests a new study. According to the findings, interrupting long periods of sedentary activity with a few minutes of moderate activity could confer short-term benefits on a child’s metabolic health.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), the randomised crossover trial evaluated sedentary behaviour and metabolism in 28 normal-weight children who were between 7 and 11 years. On 2 different days of the study, the children either sat continuously for 3 hours, or took 3 minute breaks to walk on the treadmill every half an hour. The children were provided a sugary soda like drink before the sedentary period. Their blood sugar and insulin levels were tested before and after the experiment.

The results revealed that walking breaks helped lower the blood glucose and insulin levels in the children. Surprisingly, this exercise did not seem to affect the children’s appetite. This was evident when the children were fed a buffet meal post the blood sugar testing; they consumed similar amounts and types of foods irrespective of having participated in continuous or interrupted sedentary behaviour.

Explaining the reason for these findings, the researcher said, “Sustained sedentary behaviour after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream. That forces the body to produce more insulin, which may increase the risk for beta cell dysfunction that can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term.”

Thus, it would be wise if parents ensure that children’s TV viewing time is peppered with moderate physical activity or at least 3-minute walk breaks!

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