Fitness Levels in Adolescence Determined by Childhood BMI
Childhood obesity is a major problem affecting children all over the world. The easy availability and high intake of junk food coupled with a sedentary life spent in front of the television are major contributing factors. A study assessed whether a higher weight during younger age affected the health and the level of physical activity during adolescence.
The study measured body mass index annually in children right from birth. The level of fitness was determined by conducting tests at two ages, a shuttle run test at age 9 and a maximal cycle ergometer test at age 17. A questionnaire was used to determine the physical activity during leisure time at ages 9, 13 and 17 years.
Complete data regarding all the parameters under study were obtained from 351 children.
It was found that the children with a lower BMI between the ages of 2 and 7 years were more physically fit in adolescence. An increase in leisure-time physical activity between the ages of 9 and 17 years also improved physical fitness during adolescence.
The study thus reiterates the importance of maintaining an appropriate weight and being physically fit right from childhood in order to avoid health problems later in life.
1. Body mass index, fitness and physical activity from childhood through adolescence; Katja Pahkala et al; Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090704