Exercise as it relates to Disease/Exercise interventions for childhood obesity

Obesity is a severe excess of body mass relative to lean mass and is commonly determined by interpreting an individuals body mass index (BMI).[1] It can be found by Dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meter’s squared. A BMI of equal or greater than 30 is considered obese.[1] It can be found by Dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meter’s squared. A BMI of equal or greater than 30 is considered obese.



Childhood obesity has reached "epidemic" proportion, with approximately 22 million children aged under 5 considered obese worldwide.[2] Childhood obesity is considered a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is strongly correlated with the development of comorbid conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Insulin Resistance [3] The increase in fat mass in children has occurred concurrently with a decline in self-reported exercise time, with recent studies suggesting that obesity prevention should focus on increasing physical activity,[2] to improve body composition and metabolic variables.

Causes of Childhood Obesity


Although a range physiological and psychological factors contribute to childhood obesity, weight gain is primarily caused by an imbalance between energy intake (calories consumed ) and energy expenditure (calories expanded) where energy intake exceeds expenditure.[3] In the present time children are spending more time participating in sedentary behaviour and consuming more energy dense processed food [1] contributing to an energy imbalance swayed toward weight gain

Role of Exercise In Reducing Childhood Obesity


Exercise is a key component in managing obesity. Physical activity increases energy expenditure improving energy balance towards weight loss. Exercise alone can also assist in the prevention of obesity related complications such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes [4].. Exercise increases self-confidence and self-esteem, the lack of which have been linked to obesity.

Exercise Recommendations


The Australian Department of Health and Aging has developed Physical Activity recommendations for children and young people. These are that:

  1. Children and young people should participate in at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
  2. Children and young people should not spend more than 2 hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (e.g. computer games, Internet, TV), particularly during daylight hours.

It is also recommended that Overweight and Obese children - begin slowly working up to 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity being sure to not over do it to cause injury, then increased to 60–90 minutes to avoid weight gain.[5]

Age Group Type of exercise
  • Birth to 1 year - Supervised floor based activities.
  • 1–5 years - 3 hours accumulated physical activity per day.
  • A combination of moderate and vigorous activities for at least 60 minutes per day.
  • Activities include brisk walk, bike ride or any sort of active play.
  • 60 minutes of physical activity recommended per day at moderate to vigorous intensity.

Further reading



  • Australia’s Physical Activity recommendations for 5-12 year olds (PDF 148 KB)
  • Australia’s Physical Activity recommendations for 12-18 year olds (PDF 133 KB)
  • Clinical Practice Guidelines for Management of Overweight and Obesity in Children and Adolescents (PDF 719 KB)
  • Food for Health, Australian Dietary Guidelines for Adults, Children and Adolescents.
  • Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Each of these can be obtained by calling 1800 020 103 and asking for the PHD publications request line.


  1. a b c Gaines, R., et al. (2009) The”O” Fator: A Review of the Literature and Strategies to Reduce Childhood Obesity. VAHPERD, 9-12. Invalid <ref> tag; name "Gaines" defined multiple times with different content
  2. a b Watts,K., Jones,T., Davis,E & Green,D. (2005) Exercise Training in Obese Children and Adolescents. Sports Med, 35(5),375-392.
  3. a b Ben-Sefer,E., Ben-Natan,M & Ehrenfeld,M. (2009) Childhood obesity: current literature, policy and implications for practice. International Nursing Review, 56, 166-173. Invalid <ref> tag; name "Ben-Sefer" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Taplin,C.E & Zeitler,P. (2009) Exercise for the treatment f childhood obesity- is it simply too much to ask? Foundation of Acta Paediatrica, 98, 214-216
  5. Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. (2007). Physical activity. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-active-recommend.htm