Kids with Diabetes Need More Activity

Teens with type 2 diabetes are not getting enough physical activity

February 10, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

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(dailyRx News) Being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which has been increasing in children and teens. But those already with diabetes still aren't active enough.

A recent study looked at the activity levels of two groups of kids and teenagers. One group was overweight and had type 2 diabetes. The other group was obese but did not have diabetes.

Yet the group of youth with diabetes spent almost an hour more a day sitting. They also spent less time daily getting moderate or vigorous physical activity.

"Teens need regular vigorous exercise."

The study, led by Andrea Kriska, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, aimed to understand how much physical activity overweight kids and teens with type 2 diabetes got.

The study included 699 young people, aged 10 to 17, who had had type 2 diabetes for less than two years and had a body mass index in at least the 85th percentile.

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of a person's height to weight and is used to measure whether they are of a healthy weight. A BMI at the 85th percentile or above would be overweight.

These youth were compared to another group of 312 children (aged 10-17) from a past trial, in 2005-2006. Their BMI put them at the 95th percentage or above, which identifies them as obese.

The youth all wore devices for a week that measured the amount of physical activity they got.

In analyzing the data, the researchers determined that both groups of overweight and obese youth had lower levels of moderate or vigorous physical activity than they needed.

However, those with type 2 diabetes were significantly less active than the overweight youth without diabetes. Those with diabetes also spent nearly an hour more (56 minutes) sitting each day.

The boys with diabetes aged 10 to 14 got about 35 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, and boys aged 15 to 18 got about 25 minutes a day.

Girls with diabetes aged 10 to 14 got about 27 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, and girls aged 15 to 18 got only eight minutes a day.

The children's heart and respiratory fitness was also measured in the study, and girls in the diabetes group had lower fitness in this area than the obese girls without diabetes.

The researchers concluded that overweight teens with diabetes particularly need to be encouraged to increase their physical activity and decrease their sedentary time to increase their overall fitness.

The study was published February 11 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institutes of Health. Three authors have financial ties to various companies that include Novo Nordisk, Daiichi Sankyo Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Medtronic.

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Review Date: 
February 10, 2013
Last Updated:
February 10, 2013