Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland. email@example.com.
To compare the physicalfitness and physical activity of 8-year-old overweight children (n = 53) to normal weight children (n = 65), and to determine whether a significant relationship exists between physical activity of parents and their children.
A cross-sectional study. Methods: A total of 119 children from Northern Finland were recruited for the study. Waist circumference, height, weight and BMI were measured. Physical activity of the children and their parents was determined with self-administered 7-day recall questionnaires (PAQ-C). Physicalfitness of the children was evaluated with 7 items of the EUROFIT-test battery (flamingo balance test, plate tapping, sit-and-reach test, sit-ups, bent arm hang and 10×5 shuttle run). Aerobic capacity of the children was tested with 6-minute walking test.
Overweigh was related to impaired performance in tests requiring muscle endurance, balance, explosive power of lower extremities, upper body strength and endurance, speed and agility in both genders and aerobic capacity in boys. Physical activity levels of overweight boys (2.41 SD 0.72) were lower than their lean counterparts (2.91 SD 0.64, p = 0.004); no such difference was observed in girls (2.53 SD 0.64 vs. 2.59 SD 0.68, p = 0.741). Physical activity was significantly associated with better performance in several physicalfitness tests in boys, but not in girls. Mothers' physical activity was associated with children's physicalactivity (r = 0.363, p < 0.001), but no such association was found between fathers and children (r = 0.019, p = 0.864).
This study shows an inverse relationship between excess bodyweight and physicalfitness in children. Mother-child relationship of physical activity appeared to be stronger than father-child relationship. Improving physicalfitness in children through physical activity might require interventions that are responsive to the ability and needs of overweight children and their families and focus on helping parents and children to be physically active together.