Temporal trends in physical fitness and obesity among Brazilian children and adolescents between 2008 and 2014

Anelise Reis Gaya, Julio Brugnara Mello, Arieli Fernandes Dias, Caroline Brand, Vinícius Denardin Cardoso, Gabriel Alberto Kunst Nagorny, Jorge Mota, Antonio García-Hermoso, Adroaldo Cezar Araujo Gaya


The research aims to assess the trend of the health-related physical fitness over a period comprising 2008-2014, in two cohorts of a voluntary Brazilian school aged children and adolescents. Data was obtained from the database of Project Sport Brazil. The sample comprised children and adolescents aged between 10-17 years, assessed in two cohorts: 2008-2009 (6,281) and 2013-2014 (4,052) from different Brazilian regions. Measurement of the health-related physical fitness included: sit-up abdominal test, sit and reach, nine-minute of running/walking test, and body mass index. Descriptive data analyses and Poisson Logistic Regression were used. Prevalence trends of unhealthy flexibility increased significantly for boys from 35.2% to 38.4% and girls 23.5% to 38.0%, while prevalence on unhealthy abdominal strength/resistance decreased significantly for boys from 35.9% to 30.0% and did not show differences over time for girls. Overweight/obesity increased significantly over time in boys from 18.9% to 23.7%, as well as in girls from 19.4% to 28.0%. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) showed the highest variation over time with a significantly increase of the unhealthy zone for both, boys from 33.4% to 61.3% and girls 33.3% to 66.6%. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of implementation national campaigns and interventions promoting physical activity in order to improve health.


Physical education; School children; Cardiometabolic health; Musculoskeletal health; Overweight


Abbasi, F., Blasey, C., & Reaven, G. M. (2013). Cardiometabolic risk factors and obesity: Does it matter whether BMI or waist circumference is the index of obesity? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(3):637–40. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.047506

Andersen, L. B., & Froberg, K. (2015). Advancing the understanding of physical activity and cardiovascular risk factors in children: the European Youth Heart Study (EYHS). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(2):67–8. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2013-092407

Barnekow-Bergkvist, M., Hedberg, G., Pettersson, U., & Lorentzon, R. (2006). Relationships between physical activity and physical capacity in adolescent females and bone mass in adulthood. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 16(6):447–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2005.00500.x

Barry, V. W., Baruth, M., Beets, M. W., Durstine, J. L., Liu, J., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Fitness vs. fatness on all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 56(4):382–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2013.09.002

Blair, S. N., Kohl, H. W., Paffenbarger, R. S., Clark, D. G., Cooper, K. H., & Gibbons, L. W. (1989). Physical fitness and all-cause mortality. A prospective study of healthy men and women. JAMA, 262(17):2395–401. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1989.03430170057028

Bouchard, C., Blair, S. N., & Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2015). Less sitting, more physical activity, or higher fitness? Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(11):1533–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.08.005

Cohen, D., Voss, C., Taylor, M., Delextrat, A., Ogunleye, A., & Sandercock, G. (2011). Ten-year secular changes in muscular fitness in English children. Acta Paediatrica, 100(10):1–3. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02318.x

Dorneles, R. C. G., Oliveira, H. L. R., Bergmann, M. L. A., & Bergmann, G. G. (2015). Flexibility and muscle strength/resistance indicators and screening of low back pain in adolescents. Revista Brasileira de Cineantropometria e Desempenho Humano, 93–102.

Dos Santos, F. K., Prista, A., Gomes, T. N. Q. F., Daca, T., Madeira, A., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Maia, J. A. (2015). Secular trends in physical fitness of Mozambican school-aged children and adolescents. American Journal of Human Biology, 27(2):201–6. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22638

Dumith, S. C. (2009). Physical activity in Brazil: a systematic review. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 25:S415–26. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0102-311x2009001500007

Escalante, Y., Backx, K., Saavedra, J. M., García-Hermoso, A., & Dominguez, A. M. (2011). Relationship between daily physical activity, recess physical activity, age and sex in scholar of primary school, Spain. Revista Española de Salud Pública, 85(5):481-9. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1135-57272011000500007

Ferrari, G. L. D. M., Matsudo, V. K. R., & Fisberg, M. (2015). Changes in physical fitness and nutritional status of schoolchildren in a period of 30 years (1980-2010). Revista Paulista de Pediatria, 33(4):415–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rppede.2015.03.001

Flores, L. S., Gaya, A. R., Petersen, R. D. S., & Gaya, A. (2013). Trends of underweight, overweight, and obesity in Brazilian children and adolescents. Jornal de Pediatria, 89(5):456–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jped.2013.02.021

García-Artero, E., Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Mesa, J. L., Delgado, M., González-Gross, M., García-Fuentes, M., Vicente-Rodríguez, G., Gutiérrez, A., & Castillo, M. J. (2007). Lipid and metabolic profiles in adolescents are affected more by physical fitness than physical activity (AVENA study). Revista española de Cardiología, 60(6):581–8. https://doi.org/10.1157/13107114

Gaya, A. R., Alves, A., Aires, L., Martins, C. L., Ribeiro, J. C., & Mota, J. (2009). Association between time spent in sedentary, moderate to vigorous physical activity, body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness and blood pressure. Annals of Human Biology, 36(4):379–87. https://doi.org/10.1080/03014460902817976

Gaya, A., & Gaya, A. R. (2016). Manual de aplicação de medidas e testes, normas e critérios de avaliação. Porto Alegre; Available from: https://www.ufrgs.br/proesp/arquivos/manual-proesp-br-2016.pdf [cited 19.09.18].

Hallal, P. C., Andersen, L. B., Bull, F. C., Guthold, R., Haskell, W., Ekelund, U., et al. (2012). Global physical activity levels: Surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. Lancet, 380(9838):247–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(12)60646-1

Högström, G., Nordström, A., & Nordström, P. (2015). Aerobic fitness in late adolescence and the risk of early death: a prospective cohort study of 1.3 million Swedish men. International Journal of Epidemiology, 321. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv321

Kemper, H. C., Twisk, J. W., Van Mechelen, W., Post, G., Roos, J., & Lips, P. (2000) A fifteen-year longitudinal study in young adults on the relation of physical activity and fitness with the development of the bone mass: the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study. Bone, 27(6):847–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/s8756-3282(00)00397-5

Lee, D., Artero, E. G., Sui, X., Blair, & S. N. (2010). Mortality trends in the general population: the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness. Journal Psychopharmacol, 24(4):27–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359786810382057

Moraes-Ferrari, G. L., Bracco, M. M., Matsudo, V. K. R., & Fisberg, M. (2013). Cardiorespiratory fitness and nutritional status of schoolchildren: 30-year evolution. Jornal de Pediatria, 89(4):366–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jped.2012.12.006

Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Lawman, H. G., Fryar, C. D., Kruszon-Moran, D., Kit, B. K., & Flegal, K. M. (2016). Trends in Obesity Prevalence Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 1988-1994 Through 2013-2014. JAMA, 315(21):2292. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.6361

Oliveira, L., Braga, F., Lemes, V., Dias, A., Brand, C., Mello, J., Gaya, A., & Gaya, A. (2017). Effect of an intervention in Physical Education classes on health related levels of physical fitness in youth. Revista Brasileira de Atividade Física & Saúde, 22(1):46–53. https://doi.org/10.12820/rbafs.v.22n1p46-53

Ortega, F. B., Tresaco, B., Ruiz, J. R., Moreno, L. A., Martin-Matillas, M., Mesa, J.L., Warnberg, J., Bueno, M., Tercedor, P., Gutiérrez, A., & Catillo, M. J. (2007). Cardiorespiratory fitness and sedentary activities are associated with adiposity in adolescents. Obesity, 15(6):1589–99. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2007.188

Ruiz, J. R., Ortega, F. B., Wärnberg, J., Moreno, L., Carrero, J. J., Gonzalez-Gross, M., Marcos, A., Gutierrez, A., & Sjöström, M. (2008). Inflammatory proteins and muscle strength in adolescents: the Avena study. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162(5):462–8. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.162.5.462

Tomkinson, G. R. (2007). Global changes in anaerobic fitness test performance of children and adolescents (1958-2003). Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 17(5):497–507. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2006.00569.x

Tomkinson, G., Lang, J., & Tremblay, M. (2017). Temporal trends in the cardiorespiratory fitness of 965,264 children and youth representing 19 countries since 1981. British Journal of Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2017-097982

Venckunas, T., Emeljanovas, A., Mieziene, B., & Volbekiene, V. (2017). Secular trends in physical fitness and body size in Lithuanian children and adolescents between 1992 and 2012. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71(2):181-7. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2016-207307

Vicente-Rodríguez, G., Urzanqui, A., Mesana, M. I., Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Ezquerra, J., Casajús, J. A., Blay, G., Blay, V. A., Gonzalez-Gross, M., & Moreno, L. A. (2008). Physical fitness effect on bone mass is mediated by the independent association between lean mass and bone mass through adolescence: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, 26(3):288–94. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00774-007-0818-0

Zong, Y., Xie, R., Deng, N., Liu, L., Tan, W., Gao, Y., Yang, J., & Yang, J. (2017). Secular trends in overweight and obesity among urban children and adolescents, 2003-2012: A serial cross-sectional study in Guangzhou, China. Scientific Reports, 7(1):1–8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12094-z

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2020.153.07

Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.