An activity stimulation programme during a child's first year reduces some indicators of adiposity at the age of two-and-a-half
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AIM: Obesity tracks from childhood into adulthood. We evaluated the effect of early stimulation of physical activity on growth, body composition, motor activity and motor development in toddlers. METHODS: We performed a cluster randomised controlled single-blinded trial in Dutch Well Baby Clinics, with seven nurses and 96 children (40% girls) randomised to the intervention group and six nurses and 65 children (57% girls) to the control group. Intervention nurses advised parents on stimulating motor development and physical activity during regular visits at 2 weeks and two, four, eight and 11 months. Baseline characteristics such as birthweight and mode of feeding were comparable. Outcomes at two-and-a-half years included anthropometry, skinfold thicknesses, bioelectrical impedance analyses, motor development and daily physical activity. We used linear mixed models with nurses as cluster. RESULTS: We evaluated 143 children (89 intervention, 54 control) as 18 dropped out. Skinfolds were significantly lower in intervention children (29.6 ± 4.7 mm) than controls (32.4 ± 6.0 mm), without differences in motor development or daily physical activity. Female interventions showed lower weight, skinfolds, waist and hip circumference. CONCLUSION: An activity stimulating programme during the child's first year improved indicators of adiposity when they were toddlers, especially in girls. Further research should determine whether these effects persist.
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