Association of maturation, sex, and body fat in cardiorespiratory fitness



The aims of this cross-sectional study were 1) to estimate changes in body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness across stages of pubertal maturation, and 2) to describe the relationship between maturity status and body fatness, regional fat distribution, and cardiorespiratory fitness. The sample consisted of 494 children (254 males, 240 females), 8–16 years of age. Height and weight were measured with standard anthropometric methods. Percentage of fat (%F) was estimated from two skinfold thicknesses and regional fat distribution was estimated by the ratio of the subscapular to the triceps skinfold (S/T ratio). Biological maturity was based on self-assessment of breast stages in females and pubic hair stages in males. A maximal multistage 20-m shuttle run was used to predict maximal aerobic capacity from maximal aerobic speed. Both VO2max and 20SRT-time were used as indicators of cardiorespiratory fitness. ANCOVA with age as the covariate was used. There were significant differences among girls across pubertal stages. Among boys, only weight and height differed significantly by stage of maturity. When adjusted for maturity status, cardiorespiratory fitness expressed either as VO2/kg body mass or 20SRT-time was inversely associated with %F in both sexes. This suggests that sexual maturity status alone accounts for a small portion of the variance in aerobic fitness. Height, %F and the S/T ratio were also significantly associated with VO2/kg body mass and 20SRT-time. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 14:707–712, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.