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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2008 September;61(3):329-45

language: English, Italian

Physical activity and dietary habits in 9-10-year-old children. A study in the province of Milan

Roveda E. 1, Montaruli A. 1, Carandente F. 1, Pizzini G. 2

1 Physical Exercise, Health and Sports Institute , Faculty of Exercise Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
2 Faculty of Exercise Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy


Aim. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between sedentary behavior, snacks and soft drink intake and overweight/obesity in 9-10-year-old children.
Methods. The study population was 1 194 elementary school children residing in communities in the province of Milan. Body-mass index (BMI, kg/m2) was calculated and overweight and obesity rates were estimated using age-specific BMI cut-off values. A questionnaire administrated by the same interviewer investigated for weekly physical activity, weekly sedentary activity and dietary habits; specifically, the number of hours of weekly physical and sedentary activity and the number of extra helpings and soft drinks and snacks.
Results. Spearman’s rank correlation and Student’s t-test were used to test correlations between the variables and BMI values. More physically active children had lower BMI values. Sedentary behavior at home correlated statistically with more hours watching TV, using the computer and playing videogames and with greater snack and soft drink intake. Increasing the amount of time spent in physical activity, because it increases energy expenditure and distracts children from consuming unnecessary food, could be a useful way to prevent childhood obesity and adult-onset chronic diseases.
Conclusion. Parents and teachers can play an instrumental role in encouraging a more active and healthy lifestyle in children by proposing extracurricular physical activity programs appropriate for this age group.

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