Weight Training May Combat Childhood Obesity

Adding resistance or weight training to the exercise routine of obese children may help them overcome the battle of the bulge, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that obese young children who participated in a supervised weight-training program built muscle strength and avoided the weight gain their peers experienced.

They say the findings add support to the idea of using weight training to treat and prevent childhood obesity, which has been a topic of debate in recent years. Traditionally, calorie-burning endurance training programs, which include any aerobic activity such as jogging, swimming, and brisk walking, have been the intervention of choice for treating childhood obesity.

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Weight Training May Help Obese Children

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of weight training on the strength and body composition of a group of obese children aged 7 to 11.

Half of the children participated in a 10-week, supervised, progressive-resistance weight-training program three times a week, which consisted of leg presses, leg curls, chest presses, overhead presses, bicep curls, front pulldowns, and seated rows. The other half served as a comparison group and did not do any weight training.

The results were presented this week at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Nashville.

The study showed that children who participated in the weight-training group experienced a significant increase in muscle strength while the comparison group had no such increase.

Although the fat mass of the children in the weight-training group did not change significantly during the course of the study, the children in the comparison group gained an average of more than 2 1/2 pounds of fat during the same period.

The ACSM recommends that all youth strength training programs be closely supervised and have knowledgeable instructors who understand the uniqueness of children.

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By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, June 2, 2005, Nashville, Tenn.