Tackling childhood obesity on land and in water

11 October 2016
Overseight girl balancing on log of wood

Two new studies are being launched in New Zealand to examine how overweight children move differently to children of normal weight on both land and water.

The Massey University’s College of Health studies aim to examine the challenges overweight children face when engaging in physical activity.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Shultz says physical activity is commonly prescribed to help manage weight, but little is understood about the barriers overweight children face when exercising. 

She hopes the studies will result in health professionals prescribing more appropriate exercise to address these challenges.

The first study is an AquaSport study to determine how children move differently in and out of water because there is less stress on muscle and bone in water.

 “By examining how overweight children move over land and in water, we can better understand how underwater activity could be added to exercise programs as a safe and effective alternative to the more weight-bearing activities on land,” Dr Shultz says.

The second study is a Gait Transition study to determine what factors contribute to a child’s ability to change speeds from walking to running.

“Playground activities and sports often require a child to move between walking and running. If we can identify factors that make these transitions difficult, then we may better understand why overweight children are not physically active,” Dr Shultz says.

Children in the Wellington region are needed to take part in both studies.

The AquaSport study involves one testing session in which children complete a set of stationary activities in water and on land, to record their motion. Participants receive $20 in activity vouchers for their time.

The gait transition study requires three visits in which children walk and run at different speeds on a treadmill while motion and muscle activation are recorded. They receive $30 in activity vouchers for their time.

If you want to learn more about either the AquaSport or Gait Transition studies, please email Dr Sarah Shultz.