Exercising is not as effective at combating childhood obesity as experts had previously thought, according to a new study.
Researchers at Glasgow University have found that exercising for half an hour three times a week, the level currently recommended for children, is unlikely to have a significant effect on a child's body mass index (BMI).
The study involved 545 children who exercised for the recommended amount of time, as well as increasing physical play outside of school hours.
Their BMI levels were monitored after six and 12 months but results showed that, although the increased level of exercise seemed to improve their motor and movement skills, it had little effect on their BMI.
Publishing their findings in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the researchers said that it may be necessary to further increase the amount of exercise recommended for young children in order to halt rising obesity levels.
In addition, they agreed with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) that changes should be made to children's diets and home environment.
Dr Mike Knapton, director of prevention and care at the BHF, commented: "Although this study suggests that the benefits of a small amount of extra exercise for nursery children are not visible immediately, we know it's crucial to encourage good exercise habits from an early age.
"What this study does reinforce is that we need to try and get the whole package right from the earliest years, not just one lifestyle aspect."
Independent advice on private healthcare