Health-related physical fitness, physical activity and body composition status of adolescent learners residing within the Tlokwe Municipality : PAHL study
Toriola, Olutoyin Olabiji
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Obesity and physical inactivity (PI) are major health problems world-wide, and leading contributors to the high incidence of overweight, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in children both globally and in South Africa in particular. Despite the importance of physical activity (PA), health-related physical fitness (HRPF) and body composition to health, very few studies have investigated the longitudinal relationship between these variables in children. Three articles based on this research were written in which a total of 283 adolescent learners (111 boys and 172 girls) with a mean age of 14.90±0.72 years from the Physical Activity and Health Longitudinal Study (PAHLS) participated. The students’ physical characteristics were measured using the protocol of the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK); the EUROFIT test protocol and International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) were used to assess the children’s HRPF and PA levels, respectively. In the first article, the results showed that girls had a slightly higher significant BMI (21.43±4.37 kg/m²) than the boys (20.01±3.71kg/m²) (p=0.002), and were substantially more overweight (32.4%) and fatter (%body fat=26.01±8.51) than the boys (17.1%)). A total of 85 (30%), 78 (27.5%) and 88 (31.1%) of the students had low, moderate and high PA involvement. It was concluded that girls were more overweight and less active than boys. The second article examined the relationships between body composition, health-related fitness and PA. Inverse relationships were found between BMI and the health-related fitness items of SBJ and BAH. Furthermore, BMI negatively associated with SAR and endurance performance, especially in girls. Percentage body fat was negatively related to SBJ, BAH, SAR and endurance performance. The aim of the third article was to evaluate the longitudinal development of HRPF, anthropometry and body composition status among the children. Regression coefficients showed that changes in BMI were inversely associated with those in health-related physical fitness. The changes in %BF were negatively associated with SBJ, BAH and aerobic capacity (VO2max) in the boys and girls. The results also yielded a low significantly positive association between changes in WHtR and SBJ in both genders, while low inverse associations were found between WHtR and BAH in girls, and VO2max in both genders. It is concluded that the incidence of overweight and PI was especially high in girls and excessive fatness negatively affected the girls’ fitness performances. Changes in BMI, % body fat and WHtR were negatively related with the children’s strength and running performances, especially among the girls in which the relative increase in overweight negatively affected their endurance running and static strength performances. In view of the health implications of the findings, it is necessary to create an enabling environment and opportunities to promote physically active lifestyles and develop life-long positive attitudes towards PA among students. Community-based strategies targeted at facilitating sustainable PA intervention programmes in schools are recommended.
- Health Sciences