Secular trends in physical fitness of Mozambican school-aged children and adolescents

Am J Hum Biol. 2015 Mar-Apr;27(2):201-6. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22638. Epub 2014 Oct 6.


Objective: This study presents information about secular trends in physical fitness (PF) levels among Mozambican youth.

Methods: The sample comprises 3,851 subjects (1,791 boys; 2,060 girls) aged 8-15 years who were evaluated at three time points (1992, 1999, 2012). PF tests included handgrip strength, 10 m × 5 m shuttle-run, sit-and-reach, and 1-mile run/walk. Biological maturity was assessed by sexual characteristics, and percentage body fat was predicted using triceps and subscapular skinfolds. ANCOVA (controlling for age, maturity status, and percentage body fat) was used to compare mean differences in PF tests among the three time points, by sex.

Results: Children in 1992 were more flexible than those from 2012; boys handgrip strength increased from 1992 to 2012, while girls decreased their handgrip strength; youth in 1992 were faster and more agile than their 2012 peers; and a decrease was observed in cardiorespiratory fitness between 1992 and 1999 and between 1992 and 2012 for both sexes.

Conclusions: A negative secular trend among Mozambican children's PF was observed over the last two decades, suggesting that socio-political, educational, and economical changes occurring during this period had a relevant effect on their PF. This negative trend suggests that development of intervention programs/strategies to improve PF among youth is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mozambique
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Running
  • Seasons
  • Walking