Childhood Muscular Fitness and Adult Metabolic Syndrome

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By: Shannon McCarthy

 

According to the National Institutes of Health, adult metabolic syndrome (MetS) is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. You must have at least three of the following risk factors to be diagnosed with MetS: a large waistline, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or high fasting blood sugar. This syndrome is also linked with obesity and lack of physical activity. Metabolic syndrome is becoming more prevalent in today’s society as the rise in obesity continues as well.

Childhood muscular fitness phenotypes are strength, endurance, and power. This can be measured in many ways like; handgrip strength, core exercises, push-ups and pull-ups. 1 Childhood fitness and health have been a focus in today’s studies due to the increase in childhood obesity. Experiments have been completed to find out the long-term effects of obesity childhood. Since childhood obesity is relatively new and we are not sure what the future will be like for this generation, many studies do not have proof and are still ongoing. According to Science Daily, research suggests that higher levels of childhood muscular fitness might protect against development of metabolic syndrome in adult years.

Many schools have cut out physical education programs and recess, and instead have been focusing on test taking. This is not allowing children to release energy and obtain that needed daily exercise. Children are not seen playing in the streets or parks anymore, instead they are inside watching Netflix or playing Xbox. Children are on a downward and quiet frightening spiral of not meeting daily nutrient requirements, sedentary lifestyles and becoming overweight.

Children with higher levels of the combined muscular fitness score, muscular strength, and muscular power had lower risk of adult MetS.2 Most studies suggest that with a combined effort of strength, fitness and decrease in adiposity, is a correlation with decreased risk of adult metabolic syndrome. Eating right, exercising and increasing strength may be hard for children that have already fallen into the overweight and sedentary lifestyles. With a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to delay onset and/or prevent MetS. This lifestyle change is a lifelong commitment requiring effort support of family and health care providers.

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References:

  1. Ervin RB, Wang C-Y, Fryar CD, et al. Measures of muscular strength in U.S. children and adolescents, 2012. NCHS. 2013;139.
  2. Fraser BJ, Huyhn QL, Schmidt MD, Dwyer T, Venn AJ, Magnussen CG. Childhood muscular fitness phenotypes and adult metabolic syndrome. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2016;48(9):1715-1722.
  3. American College of Sports Medicine. Childhood muscular fitness and adult metabolic syndrome. Science Daily. 2016
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