Exercise shown to be effective in reducing risk factors for type 2 diabetes among obese children

Rates of childhood obesity are higher than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of significantly overweight children more than tripled over the past 30 years. Consequently, many young people are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Doctors across the country are reporting seeing individuals diagnosed with the metabolic condition at increasingly younger ages. This could have serious implications for young adults' quality of life, as complications like heart disease and blindness tend to become more common the longer a person has lived with diabetes.

However, it may be possible for obese children to reduce their future risk of developing type 2 diabetes before it is too late. New evidence suggests that simply becoming a little more physically active can have significant benefits.

A team of researchers from the Georgia Health Sciences University recently reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research that obese children who participated in a program that involved 12 weeks of vigorous exercise decreased their total body fat, improved insulin sensitivity and increased bone formation, according to MedPage Today.

The researchers said their findings reflect a growing understanding of the role that bone tissue plays in metabolic health. In this way, exercise may have multiple benefits beyond simply burning excess fat.

"Animal studies have identified a novel 'bone-fat-pancreas' axis involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis, in the coordination of energy partitioning between adipose tissue and bone, and control of insulin sensitivity," said lead researcher Normal Pollock, according to the news source.

The findings essentially tell parents and their children what they already know - namely that getting plenty of exercise is the key to keeping off excess weight and avoiding conditions like type 2 diabetes. However, the fact that the researchers observed such specific benefits - most importantly, improved insulin sensitivity - may give more urgency to becoming more physically active.