Positive health, cardiorespiratory fitness and fatness in children and adolescents

Carmen Padilla-Moledo, José Castro-Piñero, Francisco B Ortega, Jesús Mora, Sara Márquez, Michael Sjöström, Jonatan R Ruiz
European Journal of Public Health 2012, 22 (1): 52-6

BACKGROUND: Positive health is likely a buffer against physical and mental illness. Positive health may explain some of the health benefits associated with increasing cardiorespiratory fitness and decreasing fatness in youth. We examined the association of cardiorespiratory fitness and fatness with positive health indicators in 684 (365 boys and 319 girls) Spanish children aged 6-17.9 years.

METHODS: Positive health indicators were self-reported using items of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children questionnaire. The study health indicators were: perceived health status, life satisfaction, quality of family relationships, quality of peer relationships and academic performance. Weight and height were measured and body mass index was computed. We also measured triceps and calf skinfolds thickness and body fat percentage was estimated. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by the 20 m shuttle-run test.

RESULTS: Cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with life satisfaction in children and adolescents. Fatness was inversely associated with perceived health status in children and adolescents, whereas fatness was inversely associated with life satisfaction, quality of family relationships and academic performance only in children.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest a link between cardiorespiratory fitness and fatness and positive health indicators, suggesting that improving both fitness and fatness could exert a favourable effect on positive health during childhood and adolescence.

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