Background: The aim of the present study was to determine if there were differences in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and body mass index (BMI) in rural versus urban youth.
Methods: We measured BMI in 6628 10.0–15.9-year-olds and classified them as normal weight, overweight or obese. CRF was assessed with a 20-m shuttle-run test and subjects were classified as unfit, fit or highly fit. Rural or urban dwelling was calculated from postcodes.
Results: There were no differences in frequency of BMI categories or CRF between rural and urban children (<13 years) or adolescents (>13 years). Rural adolescents were less likely to be fit (OR = 0.80; 95%CI 0.67–0.96) or highly fit (OR = 0.69; 95%CI 0.55–0.86) independent of their age, sex, race or level of deprivation.
Conclusions: Whilst there were no differences evident in children <13 years, rural adolescents were significantly less likely to meet criterion-based cut-off points for CRF. Research to elucidate why such differences exist is warranted.