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Abstract

To investigate the influence of physical activity on bone mineral accrual during the adolescent years, we analyzed 6 years of data from 53 girls and 60 boys. Physical activity, dietary intakes, and anthropometry were measured every 6 months and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans of the total body (TB), lumbar spine (LS), and proximal femur (Hologic 2000, array mode) were collected annually. Distance and velocity curves for height and bone mineral content (BMC) were fitted for each child at several skeletal sites using a cubic spline procedure, from which ages at peak height velocity (PHV) and peak BMC velocity (PBMCV) were identified. A mean age- and gender-specific standardized activity (Z) score was calculated for each subject based on multiple yearly activity assessments collected up until age of PHV. This score was used to identify active (top quartile), average (middle 2 quartiles), or inactive (bottom quartile) groups. Two-way analysis of covariance, with height and weight at PHV controlled for, demonstrated significant physical activity and gender main effects (but no interaction) for PBMCV, for BMC accrued for 2 years around peak velocity, and for BMC at 1 year post-PBMCV for the TB and femoral neck and for physical activity but not gender at the LS (all p < 0.05). Controlling for maturational and size differences between groups, we noted a 9% and 17% greater TB BMC for active boys and girls, respectively, over their inactive peers 1 year after the age of PBMCV. We also estimated that, on average, 26% of adult TB bone mineral was accrued during the 2 years around PBMCV.