Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Association of Sports Club Participation with Fitness and Fatness in Children


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 2 - p 344-350
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318186d843
Basic Sciences

Decreased fitness and increased fatness are relevant factors for decreased cardiovascular and bone health in children. One way to increase physical activity and hence fitness and to reduce the risk for overweight might be sports club participation (SCP).

Purpose: To investigate the association of SCP with fatness and fitness in children in general and in those with increased risk for overweight and/or low fitness.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a random sample of 502 first- and fifth-grade primary school children. Fitness components were determined by 10 motor tests and body fatness by the sum of four skinfolds. SCP was defined as participation of at least once a week.

Results: Two thirds of all children were participating in a sports club. Girls' and boys' participation rate as well as those of overweight children and of children with overweight parents were comparable to their respective normal weight peers. In contrast, children from migrant families (odds ratio = 0.31; 95% confidence interval = 0.20-0.48) and from inactive parents (odds ratio = 0.16; 95% confidence interval = 0.05-0.45) participated significantly less (all P < 0.001). SCP was associated with endurance (0.53 > β > 0.37, all P < 0.05) and partly with speed, strength, and coordination (0.41 > β > 0.18, all P < 0.05). In overweight children and in children from overweight parents and migrant families, this association was not found. There was no association between SCP and fatness in any of the groups.

Conclusions: SCP rates were high and were associated with higher levels of most fitness components in children. Participation rates were lower for children of migrant families and children from inactive parents. In addition, the association between SCP and fitness components was not found in overweight children and in children from overweight parents and migrant families.

1Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel; 2Swiss Federal Office of Sports, Magglingen; and 3Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, SWITZERLAND

Address for correspondence: Susi Kriemler, M.D., Institute of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Basel, Brüglingen 33, CH-4052 Basel, Switzerland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2007.

Accepted for publication July 2008.

©2009The American College of Sports Medicine