Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and energy balance in the pre-school child: opportunities for obesity prevention

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Abstract

Prevalence of obesity in preschool children has increased dramatically in recent years. The preschool years (age 3–6 years) have been regarded as critical for the programming of energy balance, via the concept of early ‘adiposity rebound’. Children who undergo early adiposity rebound are at increased risk of later obesity. Recent evidence suggests that associations between timing of adiposity rebound and later obesity may not reflect programming, but might denote that ‘obesogenic’ growth trajectories are often established by the preschool period. Studies of objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preschool children show that levels of physical activity are typically low and sedentary behaviour high. The review of evidence presented here is supportive of the hypothesis that physical activity is protective against obesity in the preschool period, and that sedentary behaviour, particularly television viewing, is obesogenic. Definitive evidence on dose–response relationships between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and obesity remain unclear. Dose–response evidence could be obtained fairly readily by intervention and longitudinal observational studies that use accelerometry in preschool children. The generalisability of much of the evidence base is limited and there is a need for research on the influence of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the preschool years in the aetiology of obesity in the developing world.
LanguageEnglish
Pages317-325
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Volume68
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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Pediatric Obesity
Obesity
Exercise
Adiposity
Preschool Children
Accelerometry
Television
Observational Studies
Longitudinal Studies
Growth
Research

Keywords

  • obesity
  • sedentary behaviour
  • energy balance
  • exercise

Cite this

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title = "Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and energy balance in the pre-school child: opportunities for obesity prevention",
abstract = "Prevalence of obesity in preschool children has increased dramatically in recent years. The preschool years (age 3–6 years) have been regarded as critical for the programming of energy balance, via the concept of early ‘adiposity rebound’. Children who undergo early adiposity rebound are at increased risk of later obesity. Recent evidence suggests that associations between timing of adiposity rebound and later obesity may not reflect programming, but might denote that ‘obesogenic’ growth trajectories are often established by the preschool period. Studies of objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preschool children show that levels of physical activity are typically low and sedentary behaviour high. The review of evidence presented here is supportive of the hypothesis that physical activity is protective against obesity in the preschool period, and that sedentary behaviour, particularly television viewing, is obesogenic. Definitive evidence on dose–response relationships between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and obesity remain unclear. Dose–response evidence could be obtained fairly readily by intervention and longitudinal observational studies that use accelerometry in preschool children. The generalisability of much of the evidence base is limited and there is a need for research on the influence of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the preschool years in the aetiology of obesity in the developing world.",
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AB - Prevalence of obesity in preschool children has increased dramatically in recent years. The preschool years (age 3–6 years) have been regarded as critical for the programming of energy balance, via the concept of early ‘adiposity rebound’. Children who undergo early adiposity rebound are at increased risk of later obesity. Recent evidence suggests that associations between timing of adiposity rebound and later obesity may not reflect programming, but might denote that ‘obesogenic’ growth trajectories are often established by the preschool period. Studies of objectively-measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preschool children show that levels of physical activity are typically low and sedentary behaviour high. The review of evidence presented here is supportive of the hypothesis that physical activity is protective against obesity in the preschool period, and that sedentary behaviour, particularly television viewing, is obesogenic. Definitive evidence on dose–response relationships between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and obesity remain unclear. Dose–response evidence could be obtained fairly readily by intervention and longitudinal observational studies that use accelerometry in preschool children. The generalisability of much of the evidence base is limited and there is a need for research on the influence of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the preschool years in the aetiology of obesity in the developing world.

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