In the News

Research indicates that sports participation and active commuting to school would significantly decrease obesity prevalence in adolescents.

As reported in the July 2012 issue of Pediatrics, we surveyed 1718 high school students and asked them about their team sports participation, active commuting to school, recreational physical activity, height, weight, diet quality, and other individual characteristics.

We found 4 key points:

  • Adolescents playing on 2 sports teams were 22% less likely to be overweight/obese and 39% less likely to be obese compared with adolescents not playing on any sports teams.
  • The prevalence of overweight/obesity and obesity would decrease by 11% and 26%, respectively, if all adolescents played on 2 sports teams per year.
  • Adolescents who walked/biked to school at least 4 days per week were 33% less likely to be obese compared with those who never walked/biked to school.
  • The prevalence of obesity would decrease by 22% if all adolescents walked/biked to school at least 4 days per week.

Sports participation typically involves consistent moderate to vigorous physical activity, which may account for its robust inverse relationship with high-risk weight status. Active commuting to school may also be a fruitful strategy for decreasing childhood obesity. To combat dwindling active commuting rates in youths in recent decades, federally-funded Safe Route to School programs are providing the necessary infrastructure to support active commuting to school. Based on our results, interventions that facilitate sport participation in adolescents of all ability levels should be prioritized for obesity prevention.

Authors: Keith M. Drake, Ph.D., Michael L. Beach, M.D., Ph.D., Meghan R. Longacre, Ph.D., Todd MacKenzie, Ph.D., Linda J. Titus, Ph.D., Andrew G. Rundle, Dr.P.H., Madeline A. Dalton, Ph.D.


Study examines links between movie smoking, team sport participation and youth smoking.

As reported in the July 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, we examined the joint effects of movie smoking exposure and team sports participation on established smoking. We analyzed data from school and telephone-based surveys that assessed movie smoking exposure and team sports participation in 2,048 youths aged 16-21 years.

We found two key points: team sports participation lowers the risk of youth smoking. However, the more movie smoking that team sports players see, the greater the likelihood that they will be smokers.

This study adds to the mounting evidence that explicit policies are needed to minimize youth exposure to movie smoking.

What can parents do?

  • Monitor what movies your child watches.
  • Restrict R-rated movies.
  • Use online tools designed for parents, including and, to be informed about the amount of smoking in a specific movie.

Parents, teachers, coaches, and clinicians should be aware that encouraging team sports participation in tandem with minimizing early exposure to movie smoking may offer the greatest likelihood of preventing youth smoking.


Lead author Anna Adachi-Mejia, Ph.D.