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.
Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.