Good aerobic fitness doesn't protect children against type 2 diabetes, staying active does

December 17, 2019

Good aerobic fitness does not protect children against obesity-induced insulin resistance, which is a key risk factor of type 2 diabetes, a new study from Finland shows. However, more physical activity and less sedentary time were associated with reduced insulin resistance also in obese children. Published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the findings are based on the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study carried out in the University of Eastern Finland. The study involved researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, the University Jyväskylä, the Norwegian School of Sports Science, the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter.

Good aerobic fitness does not protect against insulin resistance

It is a generally accepted idea that good aerobic fitness reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and it has also been thought to protect against other obesity-induced adverse changes in the glucose metabolism. However, this idea is based on studies whose methodology does not allow a distinction between the roles of aerobic fitness and body fat percentage as risk factors of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

"Our study clearly shows that aerobic fitness is not associated with insulin resistance when body composition is taken into consideration properly. Moreover, good aerobic fitness doesn't seem to protect against obesity-induced insulin resistance. It seems that the role of poor aerobic fitness as a risk factor of type 2 diabetes has been grossly exaggerated," says Researcher Eero Haapala, PhD, from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. Dr Haapala is also an Adjunct Professor of Paediatric Exercise Physiology at the University of Eastern Finland.

Development of insulin resistance can be prevented

The researchers found that more brisk physical activity and less sedentary time were associated with reduced insulin resistance regardless of the level of aerobic fitness and body fat percentage. Getting more physical activity and less sedentary time also protected obese children against the development of insulin resistance.

"A key take-home message from our study is that more physical activity and less sedentary time play key roles in the prevention of type 2 diabetes already in childhood. For obese children, these seem to be especially important," Dr Haapala notes.

The study analysed 452 children between 6 and 8 years of age, exploring associations between their aerobic fitness, body fat percentage, physical activity, sedentary time and insulin resistance. Aerobic fitness was assessed using a maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer, and body fat percentage by DXA measurement. Physical activity and sedentary time were measured using a combined movement and heart rate sensor, and insulin resistance was assessed by measuring glucose and insulin levels from blood samples.
For further information, please contact:

Eero Haapala, PhD, Adjunct Professor in Paediatric Exercise Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358408054210,, Twitter: @EeroHaapala

Instagram: @eero_haapala

Research article:

Haapala EA, Wiklund P, Lintu N, Tompuri T, Väistö J, Finni T, Tarkka IM, Kemppainen T, Barker AR, Ekelund U, Brage S, Lakka TA. Cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity, and insulin resistance in children. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (published online ahead of print).,_and.96446.aspx

See also:

University of Eastern Finland

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to