European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 165, Issue 12, pp 867–874

Fitness levels of Greek primary schoolchildren in relationship to overweight and obesity

  • Savvas P. Tokmakidis
  • Athanasios Kasambalis
  • Antonios D. Christodoulos
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00431-006-0176-2

Cite this article as:
Tokmakidis, S.P., Kasambalis, A. & Christodoulos, A.D. Eur J Pediatr (2006) 165: 867. doi:10.1007/s00431-006-0176-2



The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to provide estimates for overweight and obesity in a sample of Greek schoolchildren and to determine their possible relation with selected motor and health-related fitness parameters.

Materials and methods

The study sample consisted of 709 healthy children (328 girls, 381 boys, mean age = 8.9±1.6 years), living in the towns of Agios Stefanos (∼12 000 citizens) and Alexandroupolis (∼60 000 citizens), Greece. All pupils underwent anthropometric, motor and cardiovascular fitness assessments (Eurofit test battery). The body mass index (BMI) cut-off points adopted by the International Obesity Task Force were utilized for the assessment of overweight and obesity.


59.4% of the participants had a normal BMI, 25.8% were overweight and 14.8% were obese, without significant differences between genders.


In general, the higher BMI categories were strongly associated with inferior performances in all fitness tests, except flexibility. This graded relationship was consistent for both boys and girls, although the statistical relationship between BMI categories and fitness performance varied by gender.


In conclusion, the findings of the current study offer some support to the reported high prevalence of childhood obesity in Greece and suggest that overweight and obesity are limiting factors for fitness performance in primary schoolchildren. The present data suggest that interventions promoting children’s health should, ideally, begin early in life and involve measures that simultaneously improve fitness and lower fatness.


ChildrenOverweightObesityBMIMotor and health-related fitness



Body mass index


International obesity task force


Sit and reach test


Sit-up test


Agility shuttle run test


Multistage aerobic shuttle run test

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Savvas P. Tokmakidis
    • 1
  • Athanasios Kasambalis
    • 1
  • Antonios D. Christodoulos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical Education and Sport Science (T.E.F.A.A.)Democritus University of ThraceKomotiniGreece