Modest Increase in Kids’ Exercise May Yield Outsized Benefits

May 2, 2017

Getting just a few more American kids to run and play for 25 minutes three times a week could have outsized benefits in reducing obesity and save tens of billions of dollars, according to researchers at the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

The investigators used their computer simulation tool, called VPOP—Virtual Population for Obesity Prevention—to calculate how increasing the number of elementary school children participating in physical activity would play out in health benefits. Increasing the percent of kids who get thrice-weekly exercise from the current 32 percent to just 50 percent, they found, would result in 340,000 fewer obese or overweight kids and save $21.9 billion in lifetime medical costs and lost wages.

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