Dr. Campbell: Exercise in childhood can avoid health problems in adulthood

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — New research indicates that even modest increases in kids’ physical activity could help avoid billions of dollars in medical costs.

Even getting in just a little more in childhood can reduce risk for obesity and related illnesses in adulthood.


1. Tell us about this new study — What did it tell us about exercise in children?

A new study, conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and published in “Health Affairs” this past week showed that increasing the percentage of elementary school children in the United States who participate in 25 minutes of physical activity three times a week from 32 percent to 50 percent would avoid $21.9 billion in medical costs and lost wages over the course of their lifetime.

2. Why is this important?

We are a society of obese Americans. Obesity puts us at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies have shown that a high body mass index (BMI) at age 18 is associated with a high BMI throughout adulthood and is directly related to risk for chronic disease. This study demonstrated that even a small increase in the frequency of exercise among children ages eight through 11 would also result in 340,000 fewer obese and overweight youth, a reduction of more than four percent.

3. Based on this report, what do you think needs to be done?

This study was very powerful — if all current eight- through 11-year-olds in the United States exercised 25 minutes a day, three times a week, the researchers suggest that $62.3 billion in medical costs and lost wages over the course of their lifetimes could be avoided and in 1.2 million fewer youths would be overweight or obese.

As adults we must set a good example with daily exercise and good healthy food choices. Our kids look to us for guidance. As a family make exercise part of the family culture and plan outdoor activities to do together — especially as we move into the warmer summer months.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

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