Kenya’s urban children are showing poor knee development putting them at greater risk of osteoarthritis compared to their more active rural counterparts.
Low physical activity levels during youth have been associated with the development of thin knee cartilage, which may increase risk to osteoarthritis later in life. Osteoarthritis is a tear and wear joint disease.
Recently researchers from Harvard University, US, Moi University, Eldoret, and others, investigated and confirmed this is also happening among children in Kenya.
“We tested the hypothesis that low levels of physical activity during youth are associated with thinner knee cartilage both during the growing years and in adulthood,” say the report in the journal ACR Open Rheumatology.
The team measured knee cartilage thickness in 168 children and adolescents, aged 8-17 years from rural Nandi County and urban Uasin Gishu County in western Kenya.
This involved 78 boys and girls who attended the Pemja Primary School located in rural Nandi County. These children are likely to walk to school and involve in vigorous domestic and farm work after school.
The other urban group consisted of 88 boys and girls who attended the Uasin Gishu Primary and Secondary Schools in downtown Eldoret.
These students travel to these schools primarily by motorized vehicles and spend significant sedentary time out of school.
The study results showed the rate of reductions in knee cartilage thickness was much greater in urban than in the rural group.
Our findings, the authors say, suggest that reduced physical activity associated with urbanization in developing nations may affect adult knee cartilage thickness.
Consequently, this the authors say could be a factor that increases the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.
By Gatonye Gathura