Childhood obesity

The BMJ of 18th November 2006 has a leader and an article devoted to this very real problem. Local programmes and changes in policy have not had a substantial influence on reducing the number of obese children.
In a large study in Glasgow nurseries, Reilly and his colleagues (BMJ 2006, vol 333, pp 1041-3) studied in a cluster randomised controlled single blinded trial over 12 months whether physical activity reduced body mass index in young children. Modifications of one element of the problem ( exercise or diet ) have been more beneficial than changing both. There was no reduction in BMI at 6 months or 12 months in the increased acivity group. However the Leader commenting on this study suggests that BMI in young chjildren may not be a good index of obesity. Possibly insufficient exercise was added. Chilren can be extremely active, far more than adults can envisage.

Martin Eastwood
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