Early and current physical activity: Cross-sectional associations with overweight among adults


Introduction: The health benefits of physical activity in all ages are widely known, however the effects of early physical activity on future health are not yet fully understood. The aim of this study was to analyze the cross-sectional associations between previous and current physical activity with overweight among adults.

Methods: A probabilistic sample of 534 teachers was included in the study. Independent variables were physical activity in childhood, adolescence, and current, and clustering of physical activity through life, all analyzed using a self-report questionnaire. The dependent variable was overweight, estimated by the body mass index, assessed using self-report measures of weight and height. Covariates were sex, age, skin color, income, sedentary behavior, medication use for weight control, and nutritionist counseling. Poisson regression was adopted to estimate Prevalence Ratios (PR) in the multivariate analysis.

Results: Physical activity at ages 6-10 (PR=1.03 to 1.13), 12-14 (PR=0.96 to 0.98), and 15-17 (PR=0.76 to 0.90) years was not associated with overweight. Participants who do not meet the recommendation of current physical activity have a higher likelihood of being overweight (PR=1.55 to 2.17) and the magnitude of the association increased when analyzing those who were not physically active through all stages of life (PR=3.69 to 4.69).

Conclusion: Performing physical activity only in early life does not seem to promote health benefits in the sample analyzed. Although current physical activity is associated with the outcome, promoting physical activity continuously through lifespan seems to be a better strategy to prevent overweight among adults.



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