Physical activity in the prevention of childhood obesity

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Sep;26(5):438-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2012.01269.x. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


The current high prevalence of childhood obesity and its co-morbidities is concomitant with a low level of physical activity and an abundance of sedentary pastimes for Westernised children. To increase the participation of a majority of children in a sustained physical activity, interventions require a fair understanding and consideration of the influences of this behaviour, especially as children are overweight or obese. Basically, the physical activity behaviour of children depends on biological, sociocultural and psychosocial factors and their interplay. The recent literature lends support to the fact that some psychosocial factors such as self-efficacy and physical competence may be solid anchor points upon which to improve the participation of overweight and obese children in free-living physical activity. Thus, interventionists should first concentrate on improving these personal dimensions around which physiological and environmental factors might revolve. The development of motor skills may be a good means for enhancing the self-image of obese children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors