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MINERVA PEDIATRICA

A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


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Minerva Pediatrica 2017 April;69(2):135-40

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.16.04287-0

Copyright © 2015 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Less physically active children are shorter

Udo MEINHARDT, Fabienne WITASSEK, Renato PETRÒ, Christiane FRITZ, Urs EIHOLZER

Center for Pediatric Endocrinology Zürich (PEZZ), Zurich, Switzerland


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BACKGROUND: Current concepts of linear growth include genetic, endocrine and nutritional factors. Limited and controversial results exist regarding the effect of physical activity (PA) on linear growth. In 2009, we showed that PA promotes foot length in hypoactive children with Prader-Willi-Syndrome. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that PA related epiphyseal loading has a positive modulating effect on linear growth in healthy school children.
METHODS: In 99 healthy schoolchildren, we measured height, foot length and PA by tri-axial accelerometry. PA related epiphyseal loading was expressed as the product between mass (body weight) and acceleration (vector magnitude). Correlation between height, foot length and PA were calculated taking into account co-variables age, sex, parental height, lean and fat mass measured by DEXA.
RESULTS: Height SDS (P<0.015, r=0.245) as well as foot length SDS (P<0.001, r=0.363) correlated with PA. Multiple linear regression models showed that muscle mass expressed by lean body mass has higher correlation with PA, height SDS and foot length SDS than fat mass.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that physically less active children are shorter and have shorter feet. In analogy to the “muscle bone unit”, we propose a “muscle epiphyseal unit” which regulates local bone growth as long as epiphyseal plates are still open.


KEY WORDS: Growth and development - Motor activity - Accelerometry

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Publication History

Issue published online: January 31, 2017
Article first published online: November 19, 2015
Manuscript accepted: November 13, 2015
Manuscript revised: October 12, 2015
Manuscript received: February 24, 2015

Cite this article as

Meinhardt U, Witassek F, Petrò R, Fritz C, Eiholzer U. Less physically active children are shorter. Minerva Pediatr 2017;69:135-40. DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.16.04287-0

Corresponding author e-mail

urs.eiholzer@pezz.ch