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Kids' fitness study: A new take on 'the dog ate my homework'

July 24, 2009 |  3:01 pm

Dogs may be man's best friend, but they're often children's best friend as well.

Kmypwbnc Like the group of children from east London in the UK who were enrolled in an exercise study. They were given pedometers so researchers could track their activity levels. But the researchers found the data wasn't matching the outcome -- some of the obese participants were showing high levels of activity but not losing comparable amounts of weight. Were they eating scads of food? Loading their pockets with rocks during weigh-ins?

Nope. They had attached their pedometers to their dogs' collars, according to a BBC News story. A professor from the Mile End Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicinesaid the switcheroo wasn't shocking, since evidently this wasn't the first time something like this had happened. We weren't surprised either. While doing a story on an innovative PE program at a grammar school, we discovered that some of the students who were given pedometers during class would bounce in place slightly to ratchet up the step count. Kids do the darndest things, don't they?

Anyway, the researchers were able to get some decent numbers once they threw out the doggie steps. They found boys walk or run on average 12,620 steps a day, below the recommendation of 15,000 steps a day (in the U.S. the suggested number is 10,000 steps a day). For girls, the average was 10,150 (their recommended level in the U.K. is 12,000). Plans are to expand the study and include more children from the area. But hopefully not their dogs.

--Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Marla Brose / Associated Press