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Step count linked to type 1 child health

By Editor
7th July 2016
Latest news, Paediatrics Research

For the first time a link has been found between a daily step count and children’s cardiovascular health who have type 1 diabetes.

Researchers say walking an extra 1,000 steps a day can help young people with the condition improve their heart.

A total of 90 children with type 1 diabetes were monitored by researchers, from the University of Adelaide and Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Their physical activity was measured and those who took part in additional exercise improved their blood vessel structure and had a lower risk of heart disease.

Lead author Dr Alexia Peña, from the University of Adelaide‘s Robinson Research Institute and Paediatric Endocrinologist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, said: “Children with type 1 diabetes often report lower physical activity levels than recommended for children of the same age.

“We also tend to see early signs of atherosclerosis – a build-up of plaque in the arteries – and other adverse cardiovascular risks at an earlier age than usual for these children.”

Of those children who took part, the team found that 55 per cent took fewer than 10,000 steps per day.

Dr Peña added: “There were clear correlations between artery thickness and the average number of steps per day. With an increase of 1000 steps each day, we saw a measurable decrease in this arterial thickness.

“In the children who had extra physical activity, we also saw reductions in weight, blood pressure, and trigylcerides, which indicates an overall reduction in risk of heart disease.

“Our findings emphasise the importance of physical activity for children, and the need for advice on the benefits of exercise for children with type 1 diabetes. The more steps they do, the better.”

The research was published in the journal Diabetes Care and was supported by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust, the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Care, and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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