Sex Differences in Birth Weight and Physical Activity in Japanese Schoolchildren

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BACKGROUND: Lower birth weight (BW) is associated with increased chronic disease risk later in life. Previous studies suggest that this may be mediated principally via physical activity (PA). However, the association between BW and PA in children has not been clarified. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between BW and PA in school-aged children in Japan. METHODS: Participants were children from a prospective birth cohort study (Project Koshu) who were born from 1996 through 2002 in rural Japan. BWs were obtained from the Maternal and Child Health Handbook. Data on PA during childhood were collected using a self-reported questionnaire when participants were 9-15 years of age in July 2011. Analysis of covariance was used to evaluate exercise duration; Poisson regression analysis was used to evaluate if the recommended PA amount was met. RESULTS: Data from 657 children (boys: 54.8%, follow-up rate: 77.6%) were analyzed. Compared with the normal BW group, only girls in the low-BW group had significantly lower PA level (normal BW, 11.4 [standard error, 1.0] hours/week; low BW, 5.8 [standard error, 3.6] hours/week, P = 0.010), and were more likely to not meet the recommended PA level (prevalence ratio 1.57; 95% CI, 1.14-2.16). CONCLUSION: Low BW was associated with a lower PA level in school-aged girls but not boys. Earlier consideration of BW may be an important public health strategy to prevent physical inactivity in school-aged girls.




Yamakita, M., Sato, M., Suzuki, K., Ando, D., & Yamagata, Z. (2018). Sex Differences in Birth Weight and Physical Activity in Japanese Schoolchildren. Journal of Epidemiology, 28(7), 331–335.

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