Fitness levels of Greek primary schoolchildren in relationship to overweight and obesity

Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Dec;165(12):867-74. doi: 10.1007/s00431-006-0176-2. Epub 2006 Jun 15.


Objectives: The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to provide estimates for overweight and obesity in a sample of Greek schoolchildren and to determine their possible relation with selected motor and health-related fitness parameters.

Materials and methods: The study sample consisted of 709 healthy children (328 girls, 381 boys, mean age = 8.9+/-1.6 years), living in the towns of Agios Stefanos (approximately 12,000 citizens) and Alexandroupolis (approximately 60,000 citizens), Greece. All pupils underwent anthropometric, motor and cardiovascular fitness assessments (Eurofit test battery). The body mass index (BMI) cut-off points adopted by the International Obesity Task Force were utilized for the assessment of overweight and obesity.

Results: 59.4% of the participants had a normal BMI, 25.8% were overweight and 14.8% were obese, without significant differences between genders.

Discussions: In general, the higher BMI categories were strongly associated with inferior performances in all fitness tests, except flexibility. This graded relationship was consistent for both boys and girls, although the statistical relationship between BMI categories and fitness performance varied by gender.

Conclusions: In conclusion, the findings of the current study offer some support to the reported high prevalence of childhood obesity in Greece and suggest that overweight and obesity are limiting factors for fitness performance in primary schoolchildren. The present data suggest that interventions promoting children's health should, ideally, begin early in life and involve measures that simultaneously improve fitness and lower fatness.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sampling Studies