Comparison of cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index between rural and urban youth: findings from the East of England Healthy Hearts Study

Pediatr Int. 2011 Oct;53(5):718-724. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2011.03354.x.


Background: The aim of the present study was to determine if there were differences in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and body mass index (BMI) in rural versus urban youth.

Methods: We measured BMI in 6628 10.0-15.9-year-olds and classified them as normal weight, overweight or obese. CRF was assessed with a 20-m shuttle-run test and subjects were classified as unfit, fit or highly fit. Rural or urban dwelling was calculated from postcodes.

Results: There were no differences in frequency of BMI categories or CRF between rural and urban children (<13 years) or adolescents (>13 years). Rural adolescents were less likely to be fit (OR = 0.80; 95%CI 0.67-0.96) or highly fit (OR = 0.69; 95%CI 0.55-0.86) independent of their age, sex, race or level of deprivation.

Conclusions: Whilst there were no differences evident in children <13 years, rural adolescents were significantly less likely to meet criterion-based cut-off points for CRF. Research to elucidate why such differences exist is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Rural Population*
  • Urban Population*