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Physical Activity, Adiposity & Cognition in Children

  • Posted on Jul 26, 2017

Daily physical activity reduces adiposity and improves cognitive function in children, particularly among children who are obese, a recent study found. The study evaluated the effects of a 9-month physical activity intervention on changes in adiposity and cognitive control based on pretrial weight status in healthy weight vs obese children. Participants included obese and matched healthy-weight preadolescents (aged 8-9 years). Researchers found:

  • After the 9-month intervention, participants exhibited a reduction in adiposity.
  • Conversely, children in the waitlist-control condition, especially those identified as obese pretrial, gained visceral adipose tissue.
  • Changes in visceral adipose tissue were related to change in cognitive performance, particularly in obese participants.

We are familiar with the beneficial effects of exercise on improving metabolic parameters and decreasing the risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic risk factors in adults. This study confirms that exercise not only decreases visceral fat in children but also enhances cognitive performance, specifically improving areas of impulsivity and executive function, which is phenomenal. Exercise is the “everything drug” and should be recommended to all!

-Sarah Caudle, PA-C