Significant effect of information placebo on exercise test results in children with normal weight, overweight and obesity

Shira Fanti-Oren, Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Dan Nemet, Michal Pantanowitz, Alon Eliakim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of information placebo on fitness test results in normal weight, overweight and obese children. Methods: Twenty-four pre-pubertal children with overweight or obesity and 24 age and maturity-matched normal weight children performed a progressive treadmill exercise test twice. Different types of information were randomly provided regarding a water drink consumed prior to testing; standard (water) vs deliberate positive (presumed energy drink, placebo) information. Results: Following the placebo drink, both groups demonstrated significantly higher peak heart rate (overweight 165.8 ± 16.7 vs 174.2 ± 14.8 bpm and normal weight 177.9 ± 13.6 vs 189.8 ± 12.2 bpm) and longer time to exhaustion (overweight 396.9 ± 161.9 vs 521.5 ± 182.5 seconds; normal weight: 700.1 ± 155.2 vs 893.3 ± 150.1 seconds). Despite longer exercise duration and higher peak heart rate, average and peak rate of perceived exertion were significantly lower after the placebo drink (overweight 14.1 ± 2.5 vs 12.5 ± 2.5; normal weight 12.1 ± 1.4 vs 10.7 ± 1.5), with significantly shorter recovery time (overweight 132.2 ± 28.5 vs 118.4 ± 31.6; normal weight: 106.7 ± 18.6 vs 96.7 ± 17.8 seconds). Conclusion: Our results demonstrate a significant effect of information placebo on fitness test results that is unrelated to body weight. Children with obesity may enhance their physical activity levels and energy expenditure if properly encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • exercise
  • information
  • obesity
  • physical activity
  • placebo effect

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