Physical fitness predicts adiposity longitudinal changes over childhood and adolescence

J Sci Med Sport. 2013 Mar;16(2):118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.06.008. Epub 2012 Jul 21.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of physical fitness (PF) on the development of subcutaneous adipose tissue in children followed longitudinally over a 9 year period ranging from childhood to adolescence.

Design: This longitudinal study followed 518 healthy participants (262 boys, 256 girls) over a 9-year period ranging from childhood (age 6) to adolescence (age 15). Adiposity (triceps and subscapular skinfolds), and fitness (60s sit-ups, flexed arm hang, standing long jump, 50m dash, 10m shuttle run, sit-and-reach, and 20m pacer run) were assessed at four annual time points during primary school, and on a follow up, 6 years later, during secondary school.

Methods: Growth in subcutaneous fat was modeled within a HLM statistical framework, using fitness components as time changing predictors.

Results: Flexed arm hang (β=-0.059; p=0.000), standing long jump (β=-0.072; p=0.000), 60s sit-ups (β=-0.041; p=0.040), 50m dash (β=0.956; p=0.000), and 20m PACER (β=-0.077; p=0.000) tests, were found to predict changes on body fat growth over the years, independently of sex.

Conclusions: Improving PF individual levels can positively influence adiposity deposition over the time period covering childhood and adolescence. That occurs independently of the typical sex differentiated adiposity growth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Subcutaneous Fat / growth & development*