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School PE lessons 'do little to reduce obesity'

Increasing the number of physical education classes taken by school pupils does not make a difference to childhood obesity rates, a new study suggests.

Researchers at British Columbia (BC) Children's Hospital looked at 13 studies in which nearly 10,000 children's body mass index (BMI) measurements were recorded both at the beginning and end of trials.

Children who did the most physical education classes did not have lower BMIs than those who did the least physical activity, according to their findings.

Dr Kevin Harris, a paediatric resident at BC Children's Hospital, told the Vancouver Sun: "School-based physical activity interventions do not improve BMI, although they may have other beneficial health effects.

"There are improvements to bone mineral density, aerobic capacity, reduced blood pressure and increased flexibility," he noted.

The findings were presented at a conference of the Canadian Paediatric Society and Dr Harris concluded that, while physical education lessons provide overall health benefits, they "shouldn't be looked at as a central component of any obesity strategy".
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