TUESDAY, Sept. 18, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Getting plenty of aerobic exercise can help overweight children reduce their risk of diabetes, according to a new study.
One-third of U.S. elementary school-aged youngsters are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is associated with a range of health problems formerly thought to occur only in adults, including type 2 diabetes, according to background information in the study.
Researchers assessed how different amounts of aerobic exercise affected diabetes risk factors, such as insulin resistance, levels of overall body fat and abdominal fat in more than 200 inactive overweight or obese U.S. children. The children had an average age of 9.4 years old.
Some of the children were randomly assigned to low (20 minutes a day) or high (40 minutes a day) amounts of aerobic training five days a week for an average of 13 weeks. They were compared to a control group of children who did their normal physical activity.
The study was published in the Sept. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on obesity published to coincide with an Obesity Society meeting.
Children who did low and high amounts of aerobic exercise had greater reductions in insulin resistance than those in the control group, along with greater decreases in overall body fat and abdominal fat, said Catherine Davis, of the Medical College of Georgia, and colleagues, in a journal news release.
The exercise-related reductions in diabetes risk factors occurred in both boys girls, and in children of different races.
The U.S. National Diabetes Education Program outlines how to prevent type 2 diabetes in children.