Signs of heart disease can develop in children as young as nine if they do not get enough exercise, a new study has indicated.
Researchers measured the physical activity levels of 223 children over four days while monitoring their resting heart rate, body fat, fitness and blood pressure.
They found that the most active children, who took part in moderate or vigorous exercise, had a lower risk of factors that could cause future heart disease than those who took less exercise.
The children in the study were aged between 7.9 and 11.1 years, with an average age of 9.8 years.
They wore an accelerator belt - which can measure speed, distance and calories - for a minimum of eight hours a day for three days.
“We believe that our study now demonstrates a clear clinical association between physical inactivity and multiple CVD risk factors in children,” said lead author Dr Tina Tanha, from Skane University Hospital in Sweden.
She added: “Much of the association was driven by body fat measurements and oxygen intake.
“This is important because the accumulation of these risk factors, if started in early childhood and sustained over a long period, is believed to have greater impact on CVD and mortality than one single risk factor.”
The research was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
- Tanha T, et al. Lack of physical activity in young children is related to higher composite risk factor score for cardiovascular disease. Acta Paediactrica 2011; Advance online publication