Childhood Muscular Fitness Could Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

| November 5, 2016

It is estimated that between a fifth and a quarter of adults in Europe and America have metabolic syndrome and consequently have increased risks of developing both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. More and more children and adolescents are also being found to have this condition.1 But new research shows that there could be a simple solution that doesn’t involve a trip to the pharmacy – improving children’s muscular fitness slashes their risk of metabolic syndrome in adulthood.

The long-term study, which involved children in the UK, USA, Australia and Finland, first assessed the children’s muscular fitness when they were aged 9 to 15. Measurements of muscular fitness included strength (hand grip, leg and shoulder extension and flexion), endurance (number of push-ups in 30 seconds), and power (distance of a standing long jump).2

The children were followed up 20 years later, as young adults, when measurements were taken of their indicators of metabolic syndrome – waist circumference, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood glucose levels. The results showed a clear link between childhood muscular fitness and adult metabolic syndrome that was independent of cardiorespiratory fitness (i.e. how well the heart and lungs supply oxygen to the muscles during exercise).

Compared to those who had low muscular fitness, children with the highest muscular fitness scores had a massive 80 per cent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome as adults. Waist circumference was also an important factor – a high measurement in childhood also made metabolic syndrome more likely.

So, getting your kids away from their computer games and tablets, and encouraging them to take up sports activities, or simply letting them play in ways that increase muscular fitness (climbing trees, making rope swings, jumping across streams) could be the best thing you do for them. And giving them a hand to adjust their diet if they need to lose weight around their middle will pay dividends, too.

These new findings support the advice from national health organisations around the world on physical activity. But what if I told you that many of those national organisations, including the American Diabetes Association, are sponsored and influenced by the two biggest soft drinks makers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo? That worrying revelation will be the subject of my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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1. Friend A, Craig L, Turner S. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in children: a systematic review of the literature. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2013; 11(2):71-80.

2. Fraser BJ, Huynh QL, Schmidt MD, Dwyer T, Venn AJ, Magnussen CG. Childhood muscular fitness phenotypes and adult metabolic syndrome. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(9):1715-1722.

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Category: Diabetes

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