Obesity and physical fitness

Koulouvaris P, Tsolakis C, Tsekouras YE, Donti O, Papagelopoulos PJ. Obesity and physical fitness indices of children aged 5-12 years living on remote and isolated islands. Rural Remote Health. 2018;18(2):4425. doi:10.22605/RRH4425

Obesity has become one of the major health risks in childhood, significantly affecting children’s health and physical fitness. Although the marked increase of obesity in urban areas is well established, evidence is limited in remote and isolated areas with adverse socioeconomic features. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of obesity and its association with physical performance indices in young school-aged children living in 18 remote and isolated Greek islands.

Methods: Four hundred and sixty-three children (244 boys, 219 girls), aged 5–12 years underwent a series of physical fitness tests including 20 m sprint, standing long jump, 1 kg medicine ball throw, agility T-test and sit-and-reach test. Age and gender BMI cut-off points were determined according to World Health Organisation (WHO) norms.

Results: The prevalence of obesity was 23.8% and 13.2% for boys and girls, respectively. A negative body mass index (BMI) main effect was observed for weight-bearing activities, such as 20 m sprint (F=6.21, p=0.000, η2=0.041) and standing long jump (F=11.369, p=0.000, η2=0.074), while medicine ball throw was positively correlated with BMI in children aged 9–12 years.
Conclusion: The results of this study confirmed previous findings on obesity prevalence in Greece. A negative association was also found between BMI and physical fitness indices and, in particular, in weight-bearing activities. It is critical to establish physical education interventions and physical fitness programs at schools, aiming to increase motivation for physical activity participation.

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