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International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 573–582 | Cite as

Determinant factors of physical fitness in European children

  • Mahmoud ZaqoutEmail author
  • Krishna Vyncke
  • Luis A. Moreno
  • Pilar De Miguel-Etayo
  • Fabio Lauria
  • Denes Molnar
  • Lauren Lissner
  • Monica Hunsberger
  • Toomas Veidebaum
  • Michael Tornaritis
  • Lucia A. Reisch
  • Karin Bammann
  • Ole Sprengeler
  • Wolfgang Ahrens
  • Nathalie Michels
Original Article

Abstract

Objectives

This study was designed to explore the determinants of physical fitness in European children aged 6–11 years, cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

Methods

There were sufficient data on 4903 children (50.6 % girls) on measured physical fitness (cardio-respiratory, muscular strength, flexibility, balance, and speed) and possible determinants related to child characteristics, child lifestyle and parental factors. Multivariate and mixed linear regression models were conducted.

Results

Age, sex, children’s BMI and physical activity were independent and strong determinants of children’s fitness. Significant but small effects were found for low maternal BMI, high psychosocial well-being and fruit and vegetable intake as protective determinants. Sleep duration, breakfast intake, parental age and education and paternal BMI did not have a consistently significant effect on physical fitness. The role of determinants depended on children’s sex and the specific PF component. Longitudinal analyses especially highlighted the importance of child’s BMI as physical fitness determinant, independent of physical activity.

Conclusions

BMI together with physical activity, diet and psychosocial factors are modifiable targets to enhance physical fitness. This calls for policy approaches that combine these factors in a systematic way.

Keywords

Physical fitness Children Lifestyle Parental determinants Body mass index IDEFICS 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was done as part of the IDEFICS Study (http://www.idefics.eu). We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). Mahmoud Zaqout was financially supported by the Flemish University Council-University Development Cooperation (VLIR-UOS). The information in this document reflects the author’s view and is provided as such. The authors want to thank the participating children and their parents for their voluntary participation.

Supplementary material

38_2016_811_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (497 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 496 kb)

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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahmoud Zaqout
    • 1
    Email author
  • Krishna Vyncke
    • 1
  • Luis A. Moreno
    • 2
  • Pilar De Miguel-Etayo
    • 2
  • Fabio Lauria
    • 3
  • Denes Molnar
    • 4
  • Lauren Lissner
    • 5
  • Monica Hunsberger
    • 5
  • Toomas Veidebaum
    • 6
  • Michael Tornaritis
    • 7
  • Lucia A. Reisch
    • 8
  • Karin Bammann
    • 9
    • 10
  • Ole Sprengeler
    • 10
  • Wolfgang Ahrens
    • 10
  • Nathalie Michels
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, EU Ciencias de la SaludUniversidad de ZaragozaSaragossaSpain
  3. 3.Epidemiology and Population GeneticsInstitute of Food Sciences-CNRAvellinoItaly
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsUniversity of PécsPécsHungary
  5. 5.Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine (EPSO), Sahlgrenska AcademyUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  6. 6.Department of Chronic DiseasesNational Institute for Health DevelopmentTallinnEstonia
  7. 7.Research and Education Institute of Child HealthStrovolosCyprus
  8. 8.Department of Intercultural Communication and ManagementCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  9. 9.Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, Faculty for Human and Health SciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  10. 10.Leibniz-Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology BIPSBremenGermany

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