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Does biological maturity actually confound gender-related differences in physical activity in preadolescence?

Authors

  • B. C. Guinhouya,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty for Health Engineering and Management, ILIS, Loos, France
    • EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
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  • S. J. Fairclough,

    1. Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
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  • D. Zitouni,

    1. EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
    2. Department of Biomathematics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, Lille, France
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  • H. Samouda,

    1. Centre for Health Studies, Department of Public Health, Centre de Recherche Public-Santé (CRP-Santé), Strassen, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg
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  • C. Vilhelm,

    1. EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
    2. Faculty for Health Engineering and Management, ILIS, Loos, France
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  • H. Zgaya,

    1. EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
    2. Faculty for Health Engineering and Management, ILIS, Loos, France
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  • C. de Beaufort,

    1. DECCP, Clinique Pédiatrique, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg
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  • M. Lemdani,

    1. EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
    2. Department of Biomathematics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, Lille, France
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  • H. Hubert

    1. EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL, University Lille-Northern France, France
    2. Faculty for Health Engineering and Management, ILIS, Loos, France
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Correspondence:

Benjamin C. Guinhouya, PhD, MPH, EA 2694, Laboratory of Public Health, UDSL/ILIS, Faculty for Health Engineering and Management, University Lille-Northern France, 42, rue Ambroise Paré, F-59120 Loos, France

E-mail: benjamin.guinhouya@univ-lille2.fr

Abstract

Aim

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.

Methods

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).

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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