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Physical activity in the prevention of obesity: current evidence and research issues


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p S542
Roundtable Consensus Statement

DIPIETRO, L. Physical activity in the prevention of obesity: current evidence and research issues. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 11, Suppl., pp. S542–S546, 1999.

Purpose: The relation between habitual physical activity and the prevention of overweight and obesity in adults based on the evidence from the epidemiologic literature is described.

Methods: Literature was reviewed of current findings from large population-based studies of forward directionality in which physical activity was considered as a primary study factor.

Results: The longitudinal evidence suggests that habitual physical activity plays more of a role in attenuating age-related weight gain, rather than in promoting weight loss. Moreover, recent data suggest that increasing amounts of physical activity may be necessary to effectively maintain a constant body weight with increasing age.

Conclusion: Over decades, small savings in excess weight gain accumulate into net savings that may be quite meaningful with regard to minimizing the risk associated with obesity-related disorders. The question remains as to how important maintaining a constant body weight through middle age and into older age is to healthy, already-active people of normal body weight.

The John B. Pierce Laboratory, and Department of Epidemiology & Public Health; Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519

Address for correspondence: Loretta DiPietro, Ph.D., M.P.H., The John B. Pierce Laboratory, 290 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06519; E-mail:

Roundtable held February 4–7, 1999, Indianapolis, IN.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.