Bone mineral accrual and gain in skeletal width in pre-pubertal school children is independent of the mode of school transportation--one-year data from the prospective observational pediatric osteoporosis prevention (POP) study.BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2007 Jul 11; 8:66.BM
Walking and cycling to school could be an important regular source of physical activity in growing children. The aim of this 12 months prospective observational study was thus to evaluate the effect of self-transportation to school on bone mineral accrual and gain in bone width in pre-pubertal children, both traits independently contributing to bone strength.
Ninety-seven girls and 133 boys aged 7-9 years were recruited as a part of the Malmö Pediatric Osteoporosis Prevention (POP) Study in order to evaluate the influence of self-selected school transportation for the accrual of bone mineral and bone width. Children who walked or cycled to school were compared with children who went by bus or car. Bone mineral content (BMC) was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in the lumbar spine (L2-L4), third lumbar vertebra (L3) and hip, and bone width was calculated at L3 and femoral neck (FN). Changes during the first 12 months were compared between the groups. Subjective duration of physical activity was estimated by a questionnaire and objective level of everyday physical activity at follow-up by accelerometers worn for four consecutive days. All children remained in Tanner stage 1 throughout the study. Comparisons were made by independent student's t-tests between means, ANCOVA and Fisher's exact tests.
There were no differences in baseline or annual changes in BMC or bone width when the transportation groups were compared. No differences were detected in objectively measured daily level of physical activity by accelerometer. All children reached above 60 minutes of moderate to intense daily physical activity per day, the international recommended level of daily physical activity according to the United Kingdom Expert Consensus Group.
The everyday physical activity in these pre-pubertal children seems to be so high that the school transportation contributes little to their total level of physical activity. As a result, the choice of school transportation seems not to influence the accrual of bone mineral or gain in bone size during a 12-month follow-up period.