Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Longitudinal study of physical fitness levels, BMI and childhood obesity in school context

Julio Martis, Samuel Honório, Aldo M. Costa, Marco Batista, João Cardoso



Objective: this work is aimed at knowing the level of physical aptitude and its degree of association, regarding an urban and a rural area, in children from the primary education schools. Methodology:the sample consisted of six schools from the primary education of the county of Fundão: Santa Teresinha school (a central school), and the schools of Valverde, Fatela, Enxames, Alcaria and Peroviseu (peripheral schools). The sample has been selected in order to have a certain number of pupils from a peripheral area and another one from a central area of the city. The total sample is represented by 161 pupils, 76 are female and 85 are male and they are aged between 6 and 10. 85 come from an urban area and 76 come from a rural area. The analysis of the physical aptitude had as a reference the battery Prudential Fitnessgram (2002). Results: According to the results obtained in the anthropometry, boys and girls from rural areas are heavier and taller than the boys and girls from urban areas. Regarding the BMI and body fat, it is males in rural areas that show a higher number of pupils in the healthy zone. As far as females are concerned, it is the urban area that has more pupils in that zone. It was also noticed that there are a huge percentage of girls from the rural area in the thin zone. In the differentiation between genders, boys have better results in physical aptitude and obesity levels. Regarding the influence of the living area, there are obviously better results in the urban area than in the rural area. Our study reveals that there are significant differences in the physical aptitude tests when they were applied at two different moments. Conclusions: After the analysis and interpretation of the results, we can conclude that boys and girls coming from rural areas are taller and heavier than the ones from urban areas and that they exhibit a lower body mass index. When defining the percentage of subjects classified in the “healthy zone”, the BMI numbers in boys from rural areas that are in the healthy zone are higher than those of boys from urban areas. Regarding girls, the ones from urban areas as well as those from rural areas have almost the same percentage in the healthy zone. Concerning fat, it is males in the rural areas that have more pupils in the healthy zone. As for girls, the ones from the urban areas have better results in the three zones, being the healthy zone that has a higher percentage of girls. In the relationship between the genders, boys have better results in the levels of physical aptitude and obesity. In the relationship between the areas, the urban one shows better results. The existence of two periods of analysis allowed us to notice an improvement in all the tests.


Physical activity; Urban area; Rural area; Contrast urban-rural


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