A comparison of exercise economy between obese and non-obese 8 to 10-year old children — ASN Events

A comparison of exercise economy between obese and non-obese 8 to 10-year old children (#45)

Danielle M Lambrick 1 , Nicole Westrupp 2 , Craig A Williams 3 , James A Faulkner 2
  1. Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, England

When examining the mass-related energy expenditure of children of differing body sizes, most empirical research studies have been based upon the application of identical absolute workloads (Rowland, 2012). Consequently, the accepted interpretation of such data may be an “artefact of the laboratory exercise testing protocol” (Rowlands, 2012, p. 502). It is therefore pertinent to compare the VO2 responses of children of differing body size at a relative exercise intensity. This study compared the effect of body mass (normal weight [NW] cf. obese [OB]) on exercise economy during relativised moderate- (90% gas exchange threshold [GET]) and heavy (40% delta [∆]) intensity treadmill exercise, in children aged 8 to 10 years. Eighteen healthy NW- (body mass index [BMI]: 18.5 ± 1.0 kg•m2) and 19 OB children (BMI: 25.2 ± 2.5 kg•m2) volunteered for this study. Participants took part in two laboratory-based exercise sessions, at least 72 hours apart: i) a maximal graded exercise test to peak oxygen consumption and ii) a submaximal exercise test, wherein participants exercised for 6 minutes at 90% GET and 40% ∆ each, separated by a 5 minute recovery period. When overall body mass (mL•kg-1•km-1) and stride frequency (mL•kg-1•stride) were considered, OB children proved more economical than NW children by consuming less oxygen (~13-15%) at statistically similar (P > 0.05) treadmill speeds (moderate and heavy bouts) and stride frequencies. Our highly novel findings contradict the currently accepted viewpoint that OB individuals elicit an inferior exercise economy compared to their NW counterparts (Browning et al., 2006; McMurray & Ondrak, 2011; Volpe Ayub & Bar-Or, 2003). The physiological underpinnings of the exercise protocol employed in this study have led to a more valid interpretation of exercise economy in children of differing body mass. 

  1. Browning, R.C., Baker, E.A., Herron, J.A., & Kram, R. (2006). Effects of obesity and sex on the energetic cost and preferred speed of walking. Journal of Applied Physiology, 100, 390-398.
  2. McMurray, R.G., & Ondrak, K.S. (2011). Effects of being overweight on ventilatory dynamics of youth at rest and during exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 111, 285-292.
  3. Rowland, T. (2012). Inferior Exercise Economy in Children: Perpetuating a Myth? Pediatric Exercise Science, 24, 501-506.
  4. Volpe Ayub, B., & Bar-Or, O. (2003). Energy cost of walking in boys who differ in adiposity but are matched for body mass. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35, 669-674.