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Relationship of Body Mass Index and Fitness Levels Among Schoolchildren

Joshi, Praphul; Bryan, Charity; Howat, Holly

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 1006–1014
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822dd3ac
Original Research

Joshi, P, Bryan, C, and Howat, H. Relationship of body mass index and fitness levels among schoolchildren. J Strength Cond Res 26(4): 1006–1014, 2012—Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S.A., and understanding aspects of fitness is critical in implementing effective interventions. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship of obesity levels with the fitness levels of public school children in Louisiana. Over 7,000 school children participated in body mass index (BMI) and Fitnessgram® subtests including the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (aerobic capacity), curl-ups, trunk lifts, push-ups (strength and endurance), and shoulder stretches (flexibility). The fitness measures and BMI were analyzed using chi-square and logistic regression to test for any significant relationships. The results indicated that the participants with healthy BMIs have the highest levels of physical fitness. The differences between the fitness levels of obese and healthy children were statistically significant. This study demonstrated a direct relationship between BMI status and fitness levels as measured by the Fitnessgram® among study participants. This finding is not exceedingly surprising, as common sense tells us that the heavier a person is, the less likely he or she is to be physically fit. However, this study is an important first step in understanding weight issues in children. This information can be used to develop data-driven interventions to assist children in becoming healthier and more physically fit.

1Center for Community and Public Health, University of New England

2Department of Kinesiology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana

3Picard Center for Child Development, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana

Address correspondence to Dr. Praphul Joshi,

Copyright © 2012 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.