JOENSUU, Finland, June 14 (UPI) -- A highly sedentary lifestyle and body fat content were linked to pain conditions in children, conditions which often persist later in life to become chronic, according to a recent study.
Researchers in Finland linked sedentary behavior, lack of movement and body fat content to increased risk for lifelong chronic pain conditions, and suggest small increases in the amount of physical activity could lower risk for future problems with pain.
Rates of severe obesity in children have increased during the last decade, with one-third of children between age 2 and 19 considered overweight, nearly 25 percent are obese and 2 percent are severely obese.
For the study, published in the Journal of Pain, researchers looked at 439 children between ages 6 and 8, learning about sedentary behavior, physical activity and pain conditions using questionnaires, as well as measuring cardiorespiratory fitness and body fat percentage.
Overall, children in the highest sex-specific third of sedentary behavior had nearly twice the odds of any type of pain than children in the lowest third, while children in the highest sex-specific third of cardiorespiratory fitness had 46 percent lower chance of pain and 50 percent lower chance of headache.
Children in the sex-specific highest third of body fat percentage had 44 percent lower odds of having any pain and 48 percent lower chance of lower limb pain than those in the lowest third of body fat percentage -- which suggests physical activity is not associated with pain conditions.
"These findings suggest that prepubertal children with high levels of sedentary behavior, low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, and low body fat content have increased likelihood of various pain conditions," researchers wrote in the study. "This information could be used to develop strategies to prevent chronic pain in childhood."