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Church school kids’ waists suffer effects of lower physical activity

Girls attending Church schools have a significantly larger waist circumference, than boys in all types of schools and kids of both genders attending State and independent schools

james
James Debono
11 August 2017, 7:50am
A dietary assessment showed a higher intake of protein and carbohydrates in boys when compared to girls, with girls exhibiting a larger intake of total fats, saturated fats and a significantly higher intake of non-milk sugars
A dietary assessment showed a higher intake of protein and carbohydrates in boys when compared to girls, with girls exhibiting a larger intake of total fats, saturated fats and a significantly higher intake of non-milk sugars
A preliminary study published in the Malta Journal of Health Sciences indicates that girls attending Church schools have a significantly larger waist circumference, than boys in all types of schools and kids of both genders attending State and independent schools.

The study hints that this may be related to high intakes of sugars among girls in general, and lower amounts of physical activity among girls attending Church schools.

The study was based on measurements and diaries recording the food intake and daily activities of 66 kids aged 5 to 6.

The authors have recommended that the amount of physical activity children carry out in different school-types be addressed, especially at this particular age, “due to its apparent important contribution to weight status”

Children in independent schools were the most likely to engage in more physical activity and screen time, as compared to children in other schools.

Shorter school days at this age in independent schools were seen as one reason for large amounts of screen time due to increased free time.

Conversely, children in church schools engaged in the least amount of physical activity during after-school hours and at the weekend. 

A dietary assessment in this study showed a higher intake of protein and carbohydrates in boys when compared to girls, with girls exhibiting a larger intake of total fats, saturated fats and a significantly higher intake of NMES (non-milk sugars)

NMES intake is seen as one possible contributing factor to childhood obesity.

Physical activity has a “protective effect” neutralising high sugar intakes. On the other hand sedentary behaviour and fat intake do not appear to be risk factors for obesity at this age.

The study is based on measurements of children and parents collected in 2015. Lifestyle factors were assessed through food and activity diaries. A total of 66 children participated in the study. 

The study was written by Roberta Zarb Adami, Petra Jones, Liberato Camilleri, and Claire Sillato Copperstone. The authors acknowledged that further studies based on larger sample sizes are needed to extensively investigate obesity in this age group  on the basis of which policy recommendations can be made.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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