The relationship between Body Mass Index, diet and physical activity in adolescents
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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It has been claimed that a lack of physical activity in young people increases the risk of obesity in the younger population. The current environment in which we live is changing gradually to one that promotes a sedentary lifestyle, in turn reducing physical activity levels. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether adolescents’ physical activity levels and dietary intake related to their Body Mass Index (BMI), while also relating to the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max). A school in South Wales was involved in the study, where 42 participants (males, n = 23; females, n = 19) aged 14years – 15 years (mean age: 14.6) were chosen at random. Two questionnaires identifying physical activity levels and dietary intake were designed by the author. Height and weight of the participants were also measured to calculate their BMI status. The evaluation of BMI values resulted in the following means, males BMI = 21.42 ± 2.67 kg/m², and females BMI = 22.36 ± 3.38 kg/m². All descriptive statistics were assessed for normality, resulting in the use of Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient, to distinguish relationships between the variables in question. Following analysis of the results, there was no evidence found of a relationship between physical activity and BMI, or between BMI and VO2 max (p > 0.05). Nevertheless a significant positive relationship (p < 0.05) was identified between BMI and dietary intake and between physical activity and VO2 max, showing that a higher score of diet and physical activity relates to higher values of BMI and VO2 max. In contrast to the statistical findings, the study found that obese and overweight participants had a lower physical activity score when compared to average weight participants. Further research is required to generalise findings and identify barriers and factors that affect participation, in turn aiding the design of future interventions to promote a healthy lifestyle and physical activity.
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