Exercise intensity and obesity in children with mental retardation and low level of physical activity

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Exercise intensity and obesity in children with mental retardation and low level of physical activity


Author: Wong, Mei-po Mabel
Title: Exercise intensity and obesity in children with mental retardation and low level of physical activity
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2004
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Children with mental disabilities
Overweight children
Reducing exercises
Weight loss
Department: Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences
Pages: x, 83 leaves : col. ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1772695
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2200
Abstract: Overweight and obesity have been receiving increasing attention in Western populations [1]. As more Asians are adapting to the Western living style and diet, Asian cities such as Hong Kong are also facing similar problem with overweight and obesity, both in the adult and children populations. It was noticed that there was an increasing number of obese children in special schools for children with severe grade mental retardation. This study investigated whether the exercise intensity level of school exercise programmes including physical education (PE) and physiotherapy (PT) programme were sufficient to maintain cardiovascular fitness and prevent obesity in students with mental retardation. Thirty-four subjects aged from 7-14 years old from a local special school were consented to participate the study voluntarily. The subjects were divided into 2 groups as overweigh or obesity (A) and normal weight (B) with reference to their Body Mass Index (BMI) values. All subjects attended 2 PE sessions per week and 27 of them attended 1 or 2 PT sessions per week during the study. Exercise intensity of the subjects was reflected by measuring heart rate during activities with a Polar system. Heart rate (HR) data was recorded during two PE and two PT sessions in two consecutive weeks. The data were stored in a watch receiver and downloaded to a computer. The averaged data of peak HR and mean HR of two PE and two PT sessions were used for analysis. Parents of the subjects were requested to complete an "Eating habit questionnaire" for the diet of their children at home. The rate of overweight and obesity of the children with severe grade mental retardation in this study was 32.4%. Surprisingly, the number of overweight and obese children with independent mobility was nearly doubled the number of children dependent on walker or wheelchair for mobility. The diet information of the subjects did not show a tendency of obese students consuming more food of higher calories than those students with normal weight. The exercising heart rate was expressed in percentage of maximal heart rate (MHR), the peak HR/MHR (67.9 +- 4.7%) and mean HR/MHR (57.5 +- 5.5%) of the 27 subjects during PT sessions were significantly higher than peak HR/MHR (63.8 +- 6.4%) and mean HR/MHR (52.3 +- 6.1%) achieved during their PE sessions (p=0.000). Result of this study suggested that the PT programme had a potential to increase the cardiopulmonary function and assist in the prevention of obesity in children with MR. However, since the mean HR/MHR during both PE and PT sessions achieved by the children with normal weight (N=23) and with obesity (N=11) in this study was only 51.6-54.2 % and 55.6-61.1 % respectively, suggesting that exercise intensity level during these exercise sessions might be insufficient to attain an exercise effect on the cardio respiratory function and maintain body weight of the children. There appeared to be a need for PE teachers and physiotherapists to increase the intensity of exercise during PE and PT sessions as well as to increase the frequency of exercise sessions to perhaps at least three times a week. School physiotherapists and PE teachers could collaborate in the design and implementation of the PT and PE programme so as to maximize the beneficial effects of exercise to the students with special needs. Moreover, parents are encouraged to incorporate motor function in habitual activities and limit the sedentary activities of the children at home. Good eating habit of the children should be emphasized both in school and at home.

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