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A study by US researchers has revealed that there can be ‘varying’ benefi ts of exercise. We take a closer look


may be more beneficial to some people than to others in tackling obesity. The study – published in May’s Journal of


Epidemiology and Community Health* – was conducted by Dong-Chul Seo: an obesity expert and an associate professor at the university. It is the fi rst population-based study that shows a graded relationship between the total amount of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and obesity. A study sample of 12,227 people was


drawn from 1999 to 2006 data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES data is unique because study participants are physically measured for their height and weight rather than self-reporting the information. It also includes metabolic equivalents (MET) for the participants’ LTPA. MET is a way of quantifying the total


amount of physical activity in a way that is comparable across various forms of physical activity – walking briskly for 30 minutes, for example, is around 100 MET, while running 6mph for 30 minutes is about 300 MET. National guidelines in the US call for a minimum of 450–750 MET minutes a week.


the results The sample of 20- to 64-year-olds found that obesity rates generally declined as the amount of weekly LTPA increased. However, the decline was not necessarily the same for all participant groups. White women saw the steepest


decreases in obesity rates, particularly when they met the minimum national guidelines for physical activity – they had an obesity rate of 27.7 per cent if they met guidelines, compared to 40.6 per cent if they engaged in no LTPA. In


activity vs obesity R


esearch carried out by Indiana University in the US has revealed that an increased amount of exercise


White women participating in the study saw the biggest decrease in obesity rates


contrast, Hispanic and African American women who met MET guidelines had obesity rates of 34.5 and 50 per cent respectively, which increased to 41.5 and 51 per cent when they had no LTPA. Men were also worse off than white


women. They had obesity rates of 29.8 per cent when meeting MET and 34.1 per cent for those with no LTPA. Seo says: “The majority of health


professionals, even researchers, say the more LTPA you engage in, the less likely it is you’ll get obese. This is true, but it’s probably only applicable to white women and some white men.”


workplace wellness Seo looked deeper and found that job-related physical activity might have infl uenced obesity rates. He referred to research showing that men and Hispanic


women are more likely than white women to have manually demanding jobs, which could affect the amount of LTPA they accumulate – with higher levels of occupational physical activity (OPA), LTPA may account for a smaller proportion of total daily energy output than among white women. This could lead to an attenuated relationship between LTPA and the prevalence of obesity. This notion is supported by examining


the relationship between OPA and obesity. Mexican women showed a lower prevalence of obesity with an increase in the level of OPA, whereas respondents of other races did not. A similar fi nding was observed for men. “This illustrates the importance of


physical activity in the workplace,” says Seo, “especially for people who do sedentary work.”


*Seo, D et al. Leisure-time physical activity dose response effects on obesity among US adults. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, May 2010, p426-431 70 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital october 2010 © cybertrek 2010


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