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New Research: Healthy Weight in Children Due More to Food Than Exercise


What kind of study was this?

This was a cross-sectional observational study which means that researchers did not administer any treatment nor did they follow participants over time. They took measurements at one time point and compared the measures between different groups of study participants.

What did researchers want to know?

They already knew that children in Peru who live in rural environments without processed food and electronics have healthier weight on average than children who live in urban environments. With this study, they wanted to know if these differences are due to diet, exercise, or a combination of diet and exercise.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They compared the weight and diets of children of the same ethnic background and same country—the Shuar in Peru—but live in very different environments. So, they took measurements of a group of Shuar children who live in a rural environment and Shuar children who live in a more urban environment. The measurements included body fat percentage, metabolism speed, immune system strength, diet, and physical activity.

What did the researchers find?

They found that the urban children on average had more body fat, slower metabolism, and weaker immune systems. Unsurprisingly, the urban children also ate way more processed foods. But one thing that wasn’t different between the rural and urban children? Physical activity levels.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Physical activity is important for all human beings, regardless of age. But this study supports many others (nicely reviewed HERE) that show diet is way more important than exercise for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, focus on diet over exercise.

Original article: Urlacher, S., et al. Childhood Daily Energy Expenditure Does Not Decrease with Market Integration and Is Not Related to Adiposity in Amazonia, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 3, March 2021, Pages 695–704.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

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New Research: Healthy Weight in Children Due More to Food Than Exercise

Diet makes way more of a difference to children’s weight than exercise

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What kind of study was this?

This was a cross-sectional observational study which means that researchers did not administer any treatment nor did they follow participants over time. They took measurements at one time point and compared the measures between different groups of study participants.

What did researchers want to know?

They already knew that children in Peru who live in rural environments without processed food and electronics have healthier weight on average than children who live in urban environments. With this study, they wanted to know if these differences are due to diet, exercise, or a combination of diet and exercise.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They compared the weight and diets of children of the same ethnic background and same country—the Shuar in Peru—but live in very different environments. So, they took measurements of a group of Shuar children who live in a rural environment and Shuar children who live in a more urban environment. The measurements included body fat percentage, metabolism speed, immune system strength, diet, and physical activity.

What did the researchers find?

They found that the urban children on average had more body fat, slower metabolism, and weaker immune systems. Unsurprisingly, the urban children also ate way more processed foods. But one thing that wasn’t different between the rural and urban children? Physical activity levels.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Physical activity is important for all human beings, regardless of age. But this study supports many others (nicely reviewed HERE) that show diet is way more important than exercise for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, focus on diet over exercise.

Original article: Urlacher, S., et al. Childhood Daily Energy Expenditure Does Not Decrease with Market Integration and Is Not Related to Adiposity in Amazonia, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 3, March 2021, Pages 695–704.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!


What kind of study was this?

This was a cross-sectional observational study which means that researchers did not administer any treatment nor did they follow participants over time. They took measurements at one time point and compared the measures between different groups of study participants.

What did researchers want to know?

They already knew that children in Peru who live in rural environments without processed food and electronics have healthier weight on average than children who live in urban environments. With this study, they wanted to know if these differences are due to diet, exercise, or a combination of diet and exercise.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They compared the weight and diets of children of the same ethnic background and same country—the Shuar in Peru—but live in very different environments. So, they took measurements of a group of Shuar children who live in a rural environment and Shuar children who live in a more urban environment. The measurements included body fat percentage, metabolism speed, immune system strength, diet, and physical activity.

What did the researchers find?

They found that the urban children on average had more body fat, slower metabolism, and weaker immune systems. Unsurprisingly, the urban children also ate way more processed foods. But one thing that wasn’t different between the rural and urban children? Physical activity levels.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Physical activity is important for all human beings, regardless of age. But this study supports many others (nicely reviewed HERE) that show diet is way more important than exercise for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, focus on diet over exercise.

Original article: Urlacher, S., et al. Childhood Daily Energy Expenditure Does Not Decrease with Market Integration and Is Not Related to Adiposity in Amazonia, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 3, March 2021, Pages 695–704.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!


What kind of study was this?

This was a cross-sectional observational study which means that researchers did not administer any treatment nor did they follow participants over time. They took measurements at one time point and compared the measures between different groups of study participants.

What did researchers want to know?

They already knew that children in Peru who live in rural environments without processed food and electronics have healthier weight on average than children who live in urban environments. With this study, they wanted to know if these differences are due to diet, exercise, or a combination of diet and exercise.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They compared the weight and diets of children of the same ethnic background and same country—the Shuar in Peru—but live in very different environments. So, they took measurements of a group of Shuar children who live in a rural environment and Shuar children who live in a more urban environment. The measurements included body fat percentage, metabolism speed, immune system strength, diet, and physical activity.

What did the researchers find?

They found that the urban children on average had more body fat, slower metabolism, and weaker immune systems. Unsurprisingly, the urban children also ate way more processed foods. But one thing that wasn’t different between the rural and urban children? Physical activity levels.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Physical activity is important for all human beings, regardless of age. But this study supports many others (nicely reviewed HERE) that show diet is way more important than exercise for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, focus on diet over exercise.

Original article: Urlacher, S., et al. Childhood Daily Energy Expenditure Does Not Decrease with Market Integration and Is Not Related to Adiposity in Amazonia, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 3, March 2021, Pages 695–704.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

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