HealthDay News — Behaviors protective against obesity differ by gender among middle-school aged children, study findings suggest.

Boys who engaged in vigorous physical activity (OR 0.90) and were involved in school sports teams had a lower risk for obesity (OR 0.77),  Elizabeth A. Jackson, MD, MPH, of the Michigan Cardiovascular Research and Reporting Program in Ann Arbor, and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.

For girls, drinking milk protected against obesity (OR 0.81), the researchers found.

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Two behaviors were independently associated with increased obesity, regardless of gender — regularly eating school lunches (OR 1.29 in boys and OR 1.27 in girls) and watching two hours or more of television per day (OR 1.19 for both).

The findings are based on data from 1,714 sixth-grade students enrolled in Project Healthy Schools.

“Additional research is warranted to determine the beneficial impact of improving school lunches and decreasing screen time, while improving our understanding of gender-related differences in milk consumption and physical activities in relation to BMI,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Govinden M et al. Pediatrics. 2013; doi:10.1542/peds.2012-2994.