It is unclear how physical activity intensity and vitamin D status are related to bone health in prepubertal children. We found positive associations between vitamin D status and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity with bone in boys and girls. This highlights the importance of lifestyle factors for skeletal health prepuberty.
The sex-specific independent and interactive associations of physical activity (PA) intensity and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels with areal bone mineral density (aBMD) were investigated in prepubertal children.
The participants were 366 prepubertal Finnish children (190 boys, 176 girls) aged 6–8 years. Linear regression analysed the associations of sedentary time (ST), light PA (LPA), moderate PA (MPA), moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and vigorous PA (VPA) measured by accelerometery, and serum 25(OH)D with total body less head (TBLH) and lower-limb aBMD, measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
There was no interaction between PA intensity or serum 25(OH)D and sex with aBMD. MPA and MVPA were positively associated with TBLH and lower-limb aBMD (β = 0.11, 95% CI 0.02–0.20, p = 0.01). Serum 25(OH)D was positively associated with TBLH and lower-limb aBMD (β = 0.09, 95% CI 0.01–0.18, p = 0.03). There were no interactions between PA intensity and serum 25(OH)D with aBMD.
Vitamin D status, MPA and MVPA levels in active prepubertal children were positively associated with aBMD. The influence of MVPA is due to the MPA component, though our findings regarding the role of VPA should be interpreted with caution, as shorter accelerometer epochs are needed to more accurately assess VPA. This study adds evidence to the promotion of MPA and behaviours to encourage optimal vitamin D status in supporting skeletal health in childhood, though these need not be used in conjunction to be beneficial, and a sex-specific approach is not necessary in prepubertal children.
Trial registration number
NCT01803776. Date of registration: 4/03/2013