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    Light Activity in Childhood May Lower Cholesterol

    Light Activity in Childhood May Lower Cholesterol


    TOPLINE:

    Light physical activity during childhood may lower blood cholesterol levels more effectively than moderate to vigorous physical activity, regardless of body fat mass.

    METHODOLOGY:

    • Researchers analyzed the data of 792 children (58% females) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) UK birth cohort.
    • The measures included accelerometer-based sedentary time, light physical activity, and moderate to vigorous physical activity at ages 11, 15, and 24 years.
    • The children had complete measurements of fasting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels at ages 15 , 17, and 24 years.
    • Data also included measures of body mass, composition (fat and lean mass), insulin resistance, inflammation, and other cardiometabolic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors.
    • The researchers conducted two types of analyses: Mediation path, to examine how fat and lean body mass affected longitudinal associations of activity level with blood lipids over 13 years, and temporal path, to look at temporal relationships between activity and lipid levels at ages 15 and 24 years only.

    TAKEAWAY:

    • Higher cumulative light physical activity from childhood through young adulthood was associated with a fivefold to eightfold decrease in total cholesterol, while total body fat mass decreased the impact of light physical activity on total cholesterol by 6%.
    • Higher cumulative moderate to vigorous physical activity over 13 years led to a modest decrease in total cholesterol, an effect reduced to nonsignificance by the presence of higher fat mass.
    • More cumulative sedentary time was associated with increasing total cholesterol.

    IN PRACTICE:

    “Light physical activity provides an opportunity for persons with obesity to follow a path to potentially benefit from the lipid-lowering effect of mild exercise,” wrote the author.

    SOURCE:

    Andrew O. Agbaje, from the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland, conducted this study. It was published online on December 14, 2023, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

    LIMITATIONS:

    The study included mostly White participants, so the findings might not apply to diverse racial and ethnic groups. The accelerometer data were gathered using a 60-second epoch, a duration known to underestimate moderate to vigorous physical activity in pediatric populations. There were no measures of fasting plasma lipids at age 11 years. The study also lacked data on participants’ dietary habits, alcohol intake, and menstrual cycle.

    DISCLOSURES:

    The ALSPAC UK birth cohort is funded by the UK Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of Bristol. The author is funded by multiple foundations. No conflicts of interest were reported.



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