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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.