Gym class reduces probability of obesity, study finds for first time

May 20, 2013, Cornell University

Little is known about the effect of physical education (PE) on child weight, but a new study from Cornell University finds that increasing the amount of time that elementary schoolchildren spent in gym class reduces the probability of obesity.

The study represents some of the first evidence of a causal effect of PE on youth obesity, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Health Economics.

The research offers support for the recommendations of organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of which have advocated increasing the amount of time that elementary school children spend in , says lead researcher and Cornell professor of policy analysis and management, John Cawley, who conducted the study with Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University (Cornell Ph.D. 2002) and David Frisvold of Emory University.

Treating variation in the amount of time that states mandate schoolchildren spend in PE as natural experiments, the researchers found that an additional 60 minutes per week of PE time (enough to bring states without an explicit requirement up to the amount of PE recommended by the CDC) reduces the probability that a fifth-grader is obese by 4.8 percentage points.

The researchers also detected a gender difference: additional PE time reduces weight for boys but has a negligible effect for girls. One explanation for this difference, says Cawley, is that PE and other types of physical activity are complements for boys (increased PE leads boys to be more active in structured physical activities like organized sports), but substitutes for girls (increased PE leads girls to spend more time ).

Explore further: Integrated model can predict preeclampsia in first trimester

More information: An early, online version of the study can be viewed at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629613000556

Related Stories

Integrated model can predict preeclampsia in first trimester

April 4, 2013
(HealthDay)—An integrated model for first-trimester screening of preeclampsia (PE) seems effective in a routine care setting, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

More than one-third of California teens do not participate in school physical education

May 31, 2011
Despite a state requirement that public middle and high school students get 400 minutes of physical education every 10 days, approximately 1.3 million — more than a third (38 percent) of all adolescents enrolled in California ...

Unsuspected PE seldom linked to death in cancer patients

October 9, 2012
(HealthDay)—Unsuspected pulmonary embolism (UPE) is not associated with an increased risk of death in cancer patients when compared to patients without pulmonary embolism (PE), according to research published in the October ...

State laws mandating P.E., recess linked with increased in-school physical activity among children

December 5, 2011
State and school district-level policies mandating minimum requirements for in-school physical education and recess time are associated with increased odds of schools in those states and districts meeting physical activity ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.