Secular trends in physical fitness in Danish adolescents

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Oct;20(5):757-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00936.x.


It is important to monitor changes over time in aerobic fitness and obesity in order to target interventions when health deteriorates. We analyzed data from three population studies of adolescents carried out in 1983, 1997, and 2003. Participants were 1050 adolescents from the whole country of Denmark in 1983, 410 in 1997, and 418 in 2003, the two latter cohorts from the City of Odense. VO(₂max) was estimated from maximal power output (MPO) in a cycle test with progressively increasing workload. Estimated VO(₂max) for boys and girls was 52 and 41 mL/min/kg, respectively, both in 1983, 1997, and 2003 with no difference between the three cohorts. However, body mass index (BMI) increased 10% in the upper decentile of the distribution since 1983. MPO decreased over time, but validation studies showed that this was not due to decreased VO(₂max) . The cohort from 1983 was tested twice by school teachers and experienced scientists, and the scientists found higher MPO than school teachers in the same subjects, which emphasize the importance of good validation studies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult