Relationship of single measures of cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity in young schoolchildren

Jorge Mota, Luana Flores, Luís Flores, José C Ribeiro, Maria P Santos
American Journal of Human Biology: the Official Journal of the Human Biology Council 2006, 18 (3): 335-41
The purpose of this study was to examine differences of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) among weight groups, and the associations of CRF with obesity (body mass index) in a sample of young children. Anthropometric data (height, body mass, and two skinfolds) were collected for 255 healthy children aged 8-10 years (127 boys and 128 girls). Children were placed in three groups (nonobese, overweight, and obese), using body mass index (BMI) sex- and age-specific cutoff points. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed with a 1-mile run test. Participants were separated into two groups: fit and unfit, according to age- and sex-specific scores defined by FITNESSGRAM. The prevalence of overweight (30.5% vs. 29.1%) and obesity (13.2% vs. 12.6%) was at the same magnitude for boys and girls. Overall, 109 children (42.7%) were overweight and obese. Sums of skinfolds, weight, and BMI were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in lean boys and girls compared to their overweight and obese counterparts. Regarding height, no significant differences were found in girls, while in boys, significant differences were only found between nonobese and obese. No differences were found in obesity groups according to CRF in boys, while significant differences were found for girls (P < 0.01). Logistic regression analysis showed that girls who were overweight (odds ratio = 0.05, P = 0.000) or obese (odds ratio = 0.09, P = 0.001) were likely to be unfit. No significant results were found in boys. Overweight and obese children presented higher sums of skinfolds and weight compared with their lean counterparts. Increased BMI was significantly associated with lower CRF in girls. Thus, our data clearly showed potential gender differences of body composition in CRF, which would be of great clinical significance. Therefore, even at young ages, at least for girls, the beneficial impact of low BMI values on CRF is shown with important clinical and public health implications.

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