Issue 6
Tuesday, 04 August 2020
Charles Darwin University
Health Science PhD candidate Tim Howarth
Health Science PhD candidate Tim Howarth

Correlating birth weight and sporting success

PhD candidate Tim Howarth is investigating the health status and sporting prowess of adults who were born underweight, as part of a project to develop a training approach that optimises gains for low birth weight people.

The College of Health and Human Sciences researcher said there were no current interventions for people born weighing less than 2.5kg, who later faced increased risk of chronic health problems.

These health problems were driven by issues such as low muscle mass, increased body fat, increased stress hormones, reduced growth hormones, respiratory issues, and reduced aerobic and heart rate recovery.

“These people need something they can do to help themselves rather than just be told ‘you were low birth weight and you’re at higher risk’,” Tim said.

A pilot survey with Netball NT seeks to determine how birth weight has influenced players’ sporting journeys; what level they achieved in the sport and the injuries or health challenges they experienced along the way.

“It will be interesting to see if there is a distribution of people with low birth weight through certain sports, given that those decisions may have been influenced by weakness in certain areas, and what level of eliteness they achieved,” Tim said.

Results will inform a national survey that will examine how low birth weight affects choice of sport and various factors at play throughout players’ sporting careers.

Tim said he wanted to hear from people who had engaged in sports of any type, at any level, throughout their lifetime.

“The study will compare people born with low birth weight and those born in the normal weight range,” he said.

“We will look at changes in sporting engagement and level of competition between the two groups and what that means for longer-term responses to exercise.”

Contact Tim at E: