Friday, September 17, 2010

Fit children have better memories?

The usual childishly naive epidemiology. Middle class children probably do more exercise and inherit higher IQ from their patents. So exercise and mental functioning are correlated but one does not cause the other. Once again all we are seeing is a social class effect

If you want to boost your child’s results at school, you could do a lot worse than ensuring that they do plenty of exercise. Scientists have already shown that physical activity can make you brainier. But a team in America has used scans to show that an important part of the brain actually grows in children who are fit.

Scientists also found that one of the most important parts of their brains was 12 per cent larger than those of unfit youngsters.

They believe that encouraging children to take exercise from a very young age could help them do better at school later. Researchers from the University of Illinois, in the U.S., studied the brains of 49 children aged nine and ten using a magnetic resonance imaging scan, a technique which provides very detailed pictures of organs and tissues in the body.

They also tested the fitness levels of the children by making them run on a treadmill. The scientists found that the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, was around 12 per cent larger in the fitter youngsters. They found that these children performed much better in memory tests.

Professor Art Kramer, who led the study published in the journal Brain Research, said the findings had important implications for encouraging individuals to take part in sport from a young age.

‘We knew that experience and environmental factors and socioeconomic status all impact brain development,’ he said.
‘If you get some lousy genes from your parents, you can’t really fix that, and it’s not easy to do something about your economic status.

But here’s something that we can do something about. ‘This is the first study I know of that has used MRI measures to look at differences in brain between kids who are fit and kids who aren’t.’

The findings could encourage parents and schools to make exercise more of a priority for young children.
Figures show the majority of youngsters lead inactive lifestyles, with a third of those of primary school age either overweight or obese.


Tennessee decides to piss into the wind

Because this is based on wrong assumptions (e.g. about what "healthy" food is) it will achieve nothing

“Tennessee officials will unveil a statewide anti-obesity plan Thursday that is aimed at making residents healthier over the next five years, according to the state health department.

The strategy, dubbed “eat well, play more,” will focus on the nutrition and physical activity of residents. It is supposed to serve as a roadmap to reduce chronic disease and obesity in the state, and will focus on policy and environmental changes where people live, work and play.

Currently, Tennessee is tied with Alabama as the second most obese state in the nation. More than 31.6 percent of adults are obese. About 17 percent of teens are obese.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and Health Commissioner Susan Cooper will present the plan for the first time at noon at the Tennessee Public Health Association’s annual education conference.

Following their announcement, they will launch the web site for the intiative,


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