Obesity and aerobic fitness among urban public school students in elementary, middle, and high school

B. Ruth Clark, M. Leanne White, Nathaniel K. Royer, Tamara L. Burlis, Nicholas C. DuPont, Michael Wallendorf, Susan B. Racette

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16 Scopus citations


Aims and Objectives To assess the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk among urban public school students through a collaborative school district and university partnership. Methods Children and adolescents in grades K-12 from 24 urban public schools participated in measurements of height, weight, and other health metrics during the 2009-2010 school year. Body mass index (BMI) percentiles and z-scores were computed for 4673 students. President's Challenge 1-mile endurance run was completed by 1075 students ages 9-19 years. Maximal oxygen consumption (O2max) was predicted using an age-, sex-, and BMI-specific formula to determine health-related fitness. Resting blood pressure (BP) was assessed in 1467 students. Regression analyses were used to compare BMI z-scores, fitness, and age-And sex-specific BP percentiles across grade levels. Chi-square tests were used to explore the effect of sex and grade-level on health-related outcomes. Results Based on BMI, 19.8%were categorized as overweight and 24.4% were obese. Included in the obese category were 454 students (9.7% of sample) classified with severe obesity. Using FITNESSGRAM criteria, 50.2%of students did not achieve the Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ); the proportion of students in the Needs Improvement categories increased from elementary to middle school to high school. Male students demonstrated higher fitness than female students, with 61.4% of boys and only 35.4%of girls meeting HFZ standards. Elevated BP was observed among 24% of 1467 students assessed. Systolic and diastolic BP z-scores revealed low correlation with BMI z-scores. Conclusions A community-university collaboration identified obesity, severe obesity, overweight, and low aerobic fitness to be common risk factors among urban public school students.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1343
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 17 2015


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