I was never into team sports of any kind, but after seeing all the benefits that can come from them, I wish I had. My stepson, who is about to turn 22 years old and whom I helped raise since he was 9, was into all kinds of team sports, including baseball and roller hockey. But the one he stuck with the longest was soccer, and I know first hand that it not only helped him stay away from drugs, it also made him aware of the importance of being healthy and fit.

Now, new research has found that teens who play team sports are nearly 40 percent less likely to be obese than those who don't. 

Read more in ¿Qué más?: The REAL solution to the childhood obesity problem

The study, conducted by the Hood Center for Children and Families at Darmouth in New Hampshire and published in Pediatrics this week, also found that, overall, kids who participated in three sports teams or more in the last year were 27 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. With childhood obesity rates becoming a real epidemic, it's imperative that both parents and those in the medical field find more ways to promote and increase team sport participation among all children. 

I can imagine that the main problem--as it was in my own case--is that some kids don't really care for team sports at all. I preferred more of the individual ones like tennis and swimming. Then again, I didn't even really attempt to play anything else other than softball, which I hated. Looking back, I know I would've enjoyed soccer tremendously.

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The other important finding was that adolescents who walked or biked to school more than three days a week had a 33 percent lower risk of obesity than those who rode in a car or bus. One more reason why I'm so happy that we live so close to my children's school and they can walk or bike there, weather permitting. 

Do your kids participate in team sports? Which ones? Have they helped your children stay fit? Share your thoughts with us by leaving us a comment below. 

Image via Fowlhunter64/flickr

About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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Filed Under: childhood obesity, sports
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