Here's a little motivation to get your kids eating their veggies and staying active.
We all know the importance of eating well and staying fit, even if it’s not easy, but a recent study really drives the point home. Research by UC Riverside has shown that a healthy childhood can pay dividends later in life.
In a medical first, researchers wanted to focus on the combined long-lasting effects of a healthy diet and exercise routine in children. They discovered that children who eat well and are physically active go on to have “reduced adult anxiety-like behavior and increased … brain mass,” according to the report in Science Direct.
The results of the study
The study, carried out on four groups of young mice, looked at what happened to the different groups who received different treatment: those given a Western-diet, a healthy diet, access to exercise, and limited exercise. As they became adults the different groups showed different physical and mental consequences.
The first phase of the study only took three weeks — the time taken for mice to reach sexual maturity. There then followed an eight-week period described as a “washout,” where all the mice ate healthily and went without a wheel. Scientists could then ascertain the effects of these early different lifestyles on the mice.
The mice who indulged in a more Western diet, containing more fats and sugars, not only became fatter later in life, but also opted to eat unhealthily as adults. Interestingly, the active mice produced more leptin later in life. This is a crucial hormone that enables humans to regulate the balance of energy by telling the body that it is full.
The consequences of the report are far-reaching, as they “may be relevant for understanding the potential effects of activity reductions and dietary changes associated with obesity,” shared UCR evolutionary physiologist Theodore Garland with UC Riverside News.
As with all lifestyle decisions, it’s not really a surprise that the foundations your children lay in the early years will have a consequence later in life. However, this study can hopefully encourage parents to keep up the good work, especially when the pandemic has restricted normal sports activities. “It is important we find solutions for these kids, possibly including extra attention as they grow into adults,” explained Marcell Cadney, the study lead and UCR physiology doctoral student.
If you’d like to look at the study in further detail, click here.