Are movement behaviors associated with eating habits and appetite control in children and adolescents ?
Physical activity (PA), particularly moderate to vigorous intensity PA (MVPA), improves overall health, including body mass index, fat mass, cardiometabolic risks, fitness but also mental and cognitive development in youths.
On the country, sedentary behaviors (SB) are associated with cardiovascular and psychosocial adverse health health outcome. Although public health guidelines have been regurlaly updated (Chaput 2020), the current epidemiologic situation remains alarming, with only 44%, 39% and 16% of children meeting recomendations for MVPA, SB, and both MVPA and SB times, respectively. Interestingly, although less discussed so far, such movement behaviors might also associated with eating habits.
This brief article tends to sum up the available evidence regarding the association between movement behaviors and eating habits and appetite control in children and adolescents.
High physical activity and low sedentary behavior levels are associated with increased food intake and poor diet quality
While the impact of movements on energy expenditure had been largely studied in the past decades, recent works have investigated the two sides of the energy balance, uncovering interactions between movements behaviors and energy intake.
Both low PA and high SB levels are associated with increased food intake and poor diet quality. In 9,842 youths, higher PA level has been associated with higher healthy (i.e., fruit and vegetables) and lower unhealthy (i.e., soft drinks, savoury snacks) food intakes (Manz, 2019), which is in line with previous results from the IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of Dietary and lifestyle induced health EFfects In Children and infantS) study (Santaliestra-Pasías, 2018). Among SB, screen time seems to be particularly detrimental for eating habits (Lowry, 2015, Tambalis, 2019). The ISCOLE (International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment) study, conducted in 5,873 children, showed that meeting screen time recommendations was strongly associated with healthy eating habits (Thivel, 2019).
Exercise as a potential “corrector” of an impaired appetite control
From a physiological point of view, for low PA/high SB patterns, hedonic processes would prevail over homeostatic regulating factors, leading to over or unhealty food consumption. Recent studies found that an acute intense exercise (above 65-70% of maximal aerobic capacity) induced an anorexigenic effect on subsequent food intake in youths (Thivel, 2019). Beyond duration, modality, or induced-expenditure, intensity would be the primary exercise characteristic involved in the modulation of energy intake.
Another important parameter to consider is the timing of exercise, including placement during the day (morning vs afternoon), the order/position (pre vs post-meal), and the delay between exercise and meals. Although the literature remains limited in pediatric populations, exercising proximal to a meal would help to achieve homeostatic intake at the subsequent meal.
Improving appetite control and eating habits through exercise in youths is highly likely to have beneficial effects life-long
Comprehensive approaches addressing interactions between all key behaviors show that unfavorable PA/SB patterns are associated with poor eating habits. Intense exercising proximal to a meal might help youths to avoid overconsumption, offering a promising weight management approach. Importantly, children PA and SB tracks into adolescence and adulthood, and both childhood PA and SB have an impact on child health but also influences PA and SB later in life. Improving appetite control and eating habits through exercise in youths is highly likely to have beneficial effects life-long.
Based on : Julian V, Haschke F, Fearbach N, Gomahr J, Furthner D, Weghuber D, Thivel D. Effects of movement behaviors on overall health and appetite control: current evidence and perspective in children and adolescents. Curr Obes Rep. 2022 Jan 12.
- Low physical activity and high sedentary behaviors patterns are associated with unfavorable eating habits.
- Intense exercising proximal to a meal would improve appetite control.
- Identification of movement patterns and behavioral interventions are required since the younger age.