Strength-based exercises could help combat childhood obesity

Encouraging young people to do strength-based exercises – such as squats, push-ups and lunges – could play a key role in tackling child obesity, according to new research from the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee.

Taking part in exercises that cause muscles to contract, and strengthen muscles and bones, was found to reduce children’s body fat percentage.

The findings also suggests an increase in muscle mass – gained from strength-based exercises – could help boost children’s metabolism and energy levels.

The effects were small but meaningful, prompting calls for further research to investigate how resistance training could treat and prevent the growing issue of child obesity.

Helen Collins, Sport and Exercise scientist at the University of Dundee's Institute of Sport and Exercise (ISE), said the results show the positive effect resistance training can have on maintaining a healthy weight and reducing body fat for young people.

“This is the most extensive review so far of resistance training’s impact on young people.

"Treatment, and more importantly, prevention, of childhood obesity is a growing concern. Our findings highlight the need for more robust research into the role strength-based exercises can play in helping everyone make healthy life choices and be more physically active.”

Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee examined the findings from 18 international studies that explored the effects of resistance training on body weight for children aged nine to 18 years.

They found that resistance training decreased body fat, but had no overall effect on other measures, including lean muscle mass, body mass index and waist circumference.

Helen is currently researching the effects of strength-based exercise in live trails and is looking for children between the ages of 8-10 years-old to get in touch.

Those interested in taking part in the study or know someone who is can get in touch with Helen at: / +44 (0)1382 385674

For media enquiries contact:
Dominic Glasgow
Media Relations Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 385131