Exercise? But anything more energetic than walking has largely been banned from schools as unsafe. Kids run around all the time if you let them
One hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day can help teens beat the effects of a common obesity-related gene with the nickname "fatso," according to a new European study.
The message for adolescents is to get moving, said lead author Jonatan Ruiz of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. "Be active in your way," Ruiz said. "Activities such as playing sports are just fine and enough."
The study, released Monday, appears in the April edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The research supports U.S. guidelines that tell children and teenagers to get an hour or more of physical activity daily, most of it aerobic activity such as running, jumping rope, swimming, dancing and bicycling.
Scientists are finding that lifestyle and genes cause obesity, and they're just learning how much diet and exercise can offset the inherited risk.
One gene involved with obesity, the FTO gene, packs on the pounds when it shows up in a variant form. Adults who carry two copies of the gene variant - about 1 in 6 people - weigh on average 7 pounds more than people who don't.
In the new study, 752 teenagers wore monitoring devices for a week during waking hours to measure their physical activity.
Exercising an hour or more daily made a big difference for the teens who were genetically predisposed to obesity. Their waist measurements, body-mass-index scores and body fat were the same, on average, as the other teenagers with regular genes.
But the teens with the gene variant had more body fat, bigger waists and higher BMI if they got less than an hour of exercise daily. The results were similar for boys and girls.
There is not even epidemiological evidence behind the assertions below. The epidemiology shows that it is people of MIDDLING weight, not slim people, who live longest
OBESITY has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia, as experts say the federal government is woefully unprepared for a tsunami of weight-related health problems.
Fat was rapidly becoming the biggest public health challenge Australia had to face, said the president of the Public Health Association of Australia, Mike Daube, who is also the deputy chairman of the government's National Preventative Health Taskforce.
New figures from Western Australia, which are expected to be echoed across Australia, show the contribution of excessive weight to ill health has more than doubled in just six years [And how do they judge that? It's just opinion. You can bet that the death certificates concerned say things like "myocardial infarction", not "obesity"], and by 2006 accounted for 8.7 per cent of all disease. Tobacco's role has fallen by a quarter, and now causes 6.5 per cent of illness and early death.
"The obesity crisis is not on its way - it is already here," Professor Daube said. "What we have done about obesity is not working. This issue needs concentrated and determined action."
He said that while the federal government had done more than its predecessors there was an urgent need for the issue to be high on the agenda of the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on April 19.
"Our political leaders should be considering not only improvements to the hospital system but how to stop literally hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths," he said.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has signalled he will use the COAG meeting to push the states to accept his hospital reform plan. Critics have said it might not work well for complex diseases such as those caused by obesity, which is linked to increased rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
More than 60 per cent of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese. In 2008 the cost of obesity in NSW alone was $19 billion, according to NSW Health.
Ian Olver, chairman of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, criticised the government for its lack of action on the taskforce's recommendations last year. Professor Olver said governments had acted strongly against tobacco but had failed to tackle obesity adequately. "They have access to evidence-based policy and they need to act on it," he said.
The leader of the study, Victoria Hoad, said she expected the rest of the country to reflect the findings in Western Australia. "Smoking traditionally has been the leading preventable cause of disease but people have been getting fatter and quitting smoking," she said.
Timothy Gill, from the Boden Institute at Sydney University, said people in their 30s and 40s did not understand they faced health problems caused by obesity that in the past were more commonly seen in people in their 60s and 70s. "There has been a degree of normalisation of the problems," he said. It took 50 years to lower the rates of tobacco use in Australia but there was not that time left to deal with obesity, he said.
A spokesman for the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said that the government was investing $872 million in preventive health.