Central and total adiposity are lower in overweight and obese children with high cardiorespiratory fitness

G P Nassis, G Psarra, L S Sidossis
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005, 59 (1): 137-41

OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of cardiorespiratory fitness on total and truncal fatness in children. It was hypothesised that high cardiorespiratory fitness would result in lower total and central obesity.

DESIGN: Observational cohort study.

SETTING: Primary and secondary schools in Athens, Greece.

SUBJECTS: A total of 1362 healthy children aged 6-13 y (742 boys and 620 girls).

METHODS: Anthropometric data (height, body mass, four skinfolds thickness) were collected and per cent body fat was calculated. Body mass index (BMI) sex- and age-specific cutoff points were used for overweight and obesity definition and children were placed in two groups: overweight/obese and nonoverweight. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was assessed with the endurance shuttle-run test. Participants were grouped into high (upper two quintiles) and low (lower two quintiles) CRF based on age and sex distributions. T-test and Mann-Whitney test were used for comparisons between fit and unfit children within each BMI category.

RESULTS: Sum of skinfolds, subscapular and truncal skinfold thickness, BMI and per cent body fat were lower in overweight and obese youths with high CRF in comparison with youths at the same BMI category with low CRF (P<0.01). The beneficial effect of high CRF was also presented in nonoverweight children (P<0.01). The influence of CRF on body composition remained even after correcting body fatness for BMI.

CONCLUSIONS: Central and total obesity were lower in overweight and obese children with high CRF. This is the first study to show that a high CRF may reduce the hazards of obesity in children.

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