Youth sport participation plays an important role in promoting physical activity among children and may be a possible venue for the prevention of pediatric obesity. To design effective physical activity interventions, it is imperative to understand how different aspects of sport participation influence physical activity (PA). The purpose of this article is to present a comprehensive review of the impact of youth sport participation on children's PA and obesity status. A total of 44 studies published up to January 2014 concerning youth sport participation, PA, and obesity status were identified. Inclusion criteria were studies comparing PA levels of sport participants to nonparticipants or those comparing PA levels in different sport types and settings. Studies with the outcome variables of obesity status (e.g., body mass index, fat percentage, waist circumference) were also included. Participation in youth sport was positively associated with children's PA levels, and youth participating in sports were more likely to persist in their PA. However, the relationship between youth sport participation and obesity status was inconclusive. Educators and sports professionals should find ways to involve children in various sports settings and policies and help obese children engage more in sports.
- body mass index
- energy expenditure
- moderate to vigorous physical activity
- sports settings
- sports type