Cardiovascular fitness in adolescents: the influence of sexual maturation status-the AVENA and EYHS studies

Am J Hum Biol. 2007 Nov-Dec;19(6):801-8. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20640.


The purposes were: (1) to determine the influence of sexual maturation status and body composition by comparing cardiovascular fitness (CVF) level in two adolescent populations from the south and the north of Europe; (2) to describe the associations between CVF and sexual maturation status in adolescence. A total of 1,867 Spanish adolescents from the AVENA study and 472 from the Swedish part of the EYHS were selected for this report (aged 14-16 years). CVF (expressed by the maximal oxygen consumption) was estimated from 20 m shuttle run test in the AVENA study and from a maximal ergometer cycle test in the EYHS. Sexual maturation status was classified according to Tanner stages. Body fat percentage (BF%) was estimated from skinfold thicknesses. Expressing CVF in different ways (in absolute value and in relation to weight or fat free mass; FFM) resulted in two different results with regard to CVF interpretation and comparison between the study populations. A higher CVF, as expressed in relation to FFM, was observed in the Spanish when compared to Swedish adolescents (P = 0.001). However, after adjusting for both sexual maturation status and BF%, the difference disappeared in males, while it remained significant in females (P = 0.001). CVF was negatively associated with sexual maturation status in males (P = 0.001). However, after adjusting for BF%, the association disappeared in males, while it was significant in females (P = 0.05). These results suggest that for CVF comparisons and interpretation in adolescent populations, sexual maturation status and BF%, as well as the way to express the CVF, should be taken into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular System*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Spain
  • Sweden