Impact of the fitkids physical activity intervention on adiposity in prepubertal children

Naiman A. Khan, Lauren B. Raine, Eric S. Drollette, Mark R. Scudder, Matthew B. Pontifex, Darla M. Castelli, Sharon M. Donovan, Ellen M. Evans, Charles H. Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of a 9-month physical activity intervention on cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity among prepubertal children. METHODS: Prepubertal children (8- to 9-year-olds, N = 220, 103 girls) were randomly assigned to a 9-month physical activity intervention or a control group. The intervention provided 70 minutes (5 days/week) of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max percentile) and dual-energy radiograph absorptiometry measured cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity, respectively. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed to assess baseline and follow-up cardiorespiratory fitness, percentage fat mass (%FM), percentage central fat mass (%CFM), and estimated visceral adipose tissue (VAT) area. RESULTS: The intervention group increased in cardiorespiratory fitness (5.4th percentile; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8 to 8.9) and decreased in %FM (20.7%; 95% CI, 21.1 to 20.4) and %CFM (21.3%; 95% CI, 21.9 to 20.7). Reductions in %FM were evident for both nonoverweight (20.62%; 95% CI, 21.07 to 20.17) and overweight or obese (20.86%; 95% CI,21.46 to 20.25) intervention participants. Conversely, the control group displayed no change in cardiorespiratory fitness while exhibiting increases in %FM (0.4%; 95% CI, 0.1 to 0.7), %CFM (0.6; 95% CI, 0.1 to 1.1), and VAT area (3.0 cm2; 95% CI, 1.6 to 4.4). Nonoverweight control participants increased in %FM (0.52%; 95% CI, 0.13 to 0.91), and their overweight and obese counterparts increased in VAT (4.76 cm2; 95% CI, 1.90 to 7.63). CONCLUSIONS: The physical activity intervention improved cardiorespiratory fitness, reduced %FM, and prevented accumulation of %CFM among prepubertal children with varying adiposity levels. These findings provide support for daily physical activity recommendations to prevent excess fat mass accumulation in childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e875-e883
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Abdominal Adiposity
  • Obesity
  • Physical Activity
  • Physical Fitness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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