Skeletal Effects of Nine Months of Physical Activity in Obese and Healthy Weight Children

Vineel Kondiboyina, Lauren B. Raine, Arthur F. Kramer, Naiman A. Khan, Charles H. Hillman, Sandra J. Shefelbine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Obesity during adolescence has multisystem health consequences. The objective of this work was to determine whether preadolescent overweight/obese children's bones respond to a 9-month physical activity intervention by increasing bone density similar to healthy weight children. Methods Participants included overweight/obese (BMI > 85%) and healthy weight (15% < BMI < 85%) preadolescents (8-9 yr old). Participants in the physical activity group participated in a 9-month physical activity curriculum every day after school. The wait list control group received no intervention. Both groups had overweight/obese children and healthy weight controls. Whole-body bone mineral content, area, and bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) were assessed using dual X-ray absorptiometry) at the beginning and end of the 9-month trial in the physical activity and control group. Results Overweight/obese preadolescent children had higher BMAD than healthy weight children (P < 0.001 for spine, leg, and whole body). However, the density/weight (BMAD/lean mass) was lower in overweight/obese children than that in healthy weight children, indicating that the density of bones in overweight/obese children may not compensate sufficiently for the excessive load due to weight. The change in BMAD over 9 months was greater in healthy weight children than overweight/obese children in the whole body and leg, but not the lumbar spine. Physical activity caused a site-specific increase in bone density, affecting the legs more than the lumbar spine, but there was no significant difference in the effect of exercise between the healthy weight and the overweight/obese group. Conclusions The smaller change in BMAD over the 9 months and lower BMAD per unit lean mass in overweight/obese compared with healthy weight children may indicate a slower rate of bone mass accrual, which may have implications for bone health during skeletal growth in obese/overweight children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-440
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Bone Density
  • Obesity
  • Physical Activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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