Teens, who are active member of a sports team, walk or even bike to school reduces their chances of becoming overweight or obese.

According to a new study led by Keith Drake from the Dartmouth Medical School’s Hood Center for Children and Families, out of 1,700 teens who participated in sport teams, they teens reduced their chances of obesity or being overweight by 22 percent. Teens that at least walked home or rode a bike reduced their chance of obesity or being overweight by 33 percent.

The study comprised 1,718 students from New Hampshire and Vermont high schools. Researchers conducted telephone surveys with teens and their parents to determine the teen’s participation in sports, physical activity, recreational activity for fun, diet quality as well as height and weight.

Of the 1,718 teens who participated, research revealed teens who are an active member of three sport teams a year are 27 percent less prone to becoming overweight and 39 percent less likely to become obese, compared to those who are not members of a team.

Those who participate in an active commute such as bike riding and walking to school did not show a substantial difference in being overweight, however it was observed that it can overall reduce a teen’s chance of suffering from obesity.  

Of 429 teens who were not on a team, 40 percent of the teens were overweight or obese. Only 22 percent of the 927 teens who were on two or more teams were overweight or obese.

The study also revealed physical education classes showed little to no impact on a teen’s weight status. Rather high school sport teams that include routine practice and competitions will further decrease a teen’s chance of being overweight or obese.

Drake does want to assure that the results of this study may include errors, because it relies on answers reported by the teen and his or her parent. Drake also wants to stress that just because a teen is  participating on a sports team does not mean it is enough to reduce his or her chances of being overweight or obese, and does not automatically classify the teen as physically active.

Drake believes increasing opportunities for all teens to be physically active should be a priority in combating overweight and obesity. 

This study was published in the journal Pediatrics