The impact of gender, body dimension and body composition on hand-grip strength in healthy children
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Maximum hand-grip (HG) strength, body composition and main anthropometric variables were evaluated in 278 children with normal weight and growth, aged 5–15 yr divided into 3 age groups: group 1, age±SD: 7.6±0.9 yr 7.6 ±0.9 SD (Tanner stage 1); group 2, age: 10.8±0.7 yr (Tanner stage: 2-3); group 3, age: 13.2±0.9 yr (Tanner stage: 4-5). Weight, height, body surface area (BSA), BMI, percent body fat (BF) and fat free mass (FFM) increased progressively and significantly from the younger to the older age group. A significant difference between genders was detected only for BF and FFM, females having a higher fat mass and a lower FFM compared to males. Most children were right-handed (91%). In either genders, a curvilinear relation was detected between HG strength and age, with best fit for the dominant (d) hand given by the equations: dHG=5.891 *100.051 age, r2=0.986, p<0.001 in males and dHG=6.163 *100.045 age, r2=0.973, p<0.001 in females. The increase in HG strength after 11 yr appears to be steeper in males as compared with that found in females. In both d and non-dominant (nd) hand, a significant difference in HG strength was detected between males and females, the average difference being about 10% at all ages. For both genders, nd hand was significantly weaker than d hand in the older age groups (2 and 3), but not in the younger group 1. Age and gender-dependent differences in HG strength (but not differences between d and nd hand) disappear if HG strength is normalized for FFM. Thus, in general, dHG strength normalized for FFM resulted on average to be 0.67±0.11 kg/kg. A multiple linear regression analysis indicated that HG was positively correlated with BMI, BSA, stature, stature2 and FFM (p<0.001 for all correlations) without differences between genders, while a negative correlation was found between HG strength and %BF. The most significant correlation was found between HG strength and FFM, without any significant difference between genders, so that the overall equation describing the line for the d hand was: dHG strength= 2.32+0.63 FFM, r2=0.72, p<0.001. In conclusion, the present study indicates that the age-dependent increase of HG strength as well as the be-tween-gender differences are strongly related to changes of FFM values occurring during childhood. Moreover, the study provides a standard normative value of maximal HG strength for the healthy children population in Northern Italy.
Key-wordsBody composition children fat free mass hand-grip
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