Seemingly in a battle of research reports, researchers at The Hood Center for Children and Families at Dartmouth College, in a study just published on the Pediatrics website, found that participation in team sports does do a better job of keeping weight off kids than other activities.
Investigators surveyed more than 1,700 high school students by phone and asked them how much they participated in team sports, what other forms of physical activity they were involved in and their height and weight.
The study found those kids who played on three or more sports teams in a year, were 27% less likely to be overweight, and 39% less likely to be obese than those teens who did not play team sports. They also found biking or walking to school had less of an effect on a student's weight - although it did reduce their likelihood of being obese.
“We estimated that the prevalence of obesity would decrease by 22% if all adolescents walked or biked to school four to five days per week,” said Keith Drake, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Hood Center for Children and Families at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
Drake's research also found that P.E. classes for teens seemed to have little effect on their weight.
And from US News & World Report:
"If parents are truly interested in preventing overweight and obesity, getting their kids to join one or more sports teams may be an effective way to do that," said the study's lead author, Keith Drake...
"It really might be worth all that driving you'll have to do, because playing sports has a healthy impact on weight," Drake said.
reviewed research comparing sport participants with nonparticipants on weight status, physical activity, and diet. Among 19 studies, we found no clear pattern of association between body weight and sport participation …
Additional research may foster understanding about how sport, and youth sport settings, can help promote energy balance and healthy body weight.
Perhaps the Hood Center report represents that “additional research.”