Does biological maturity actually confound gender-related differences in physical activity in preadolescence?
Article first published online: 19 JUN 2012
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Child: Care, Health and Development
Volume 39, Issue 6, pages 835–844, November 2013
How to Cite
Guinhouya, B. C., Fairclough, S. J., Zitouni, D., Samouda, H., Vilhelm, C., Zgaya, H., de Beaufort, C., Lemdani, M. and Hubert, H. (2013), Does biological maturity actually confound gender-related differences in physical activity in preadolescence?. Child: Care, Health and Development, 39: 835–844. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2012.01407.x
- Issue published online: 2 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 19 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 APR 2012
- movement behaviour;
- sexual dimorphism
To examine: (i) if maturity-related gender differences in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) depend on how maturity status is defined and measured; and (ii) the influence of maturity level on compliance with PA recommendations.
The study involved 253 children (139 boys) aged 9.9 ± 0.9 years, with mean stature and weight of 1.39 ± 0.08 m and 35.8 ± 8.8 kg respectively. Their PA was evaluated using an Actigraph accelerometer (Model 7164). Maturity was assessed using the estimated age at peak height velocity (APHV) and a standardized APHV by gender (i.e. centred APHV).
Boys engaged in significantly more MVPA than girls (P < 0.0001). There was a significant correlation between the centred APHV and MVPA in boys (r = 0.20; P = 0.016), but not in girls (r = 0.13; P = 0.155). An ancova controlling for the estimated APHV showed no significant interactions between gender and APHV, and the main effect of gender on MVPA was negated. Conversely, there was a significant main effect of APHV on MVPA (F 1,249 = 6.12; P = 0.014; η p 2 = 0.024). Only 9.1% of children met the PA recommendations, including 14.4% of boys and 2.6% of girls (P < 0.01). This observation also applies in both pre-APHV (12.7% of boys vs. 2.4% of girls, P < 0.001) and post-APHV children (23.8% of boys vs. 3.4% of girls, P < 0.0001). No differences in PA guidelines were observed between pre-APHV and post-APHV children.
Among prepubescent children, the influence of biological maturity on gender differences in PA may be a function of how maturity status is determined. The most physically active prepubescent children were those who were on time according to APHV.