Strength and Body Weight in US Children and Adolescents
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Regular aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity in youth has been positively associated with health and may help prevent obesity. The purpose of this study is to provide reference values on 4 core, upper, and lower body measures of muscle strength among US children and adolescents and to investigate the association between these measures of strength and weight status.
METHODS: We assessed muscular strength using 4 different tests (plank, modified pull-up, knee extension, and grip strength) in 1224 youth aged 6 to 15 years collected during the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey National Youth Fitness Survey. Mean and median estimates are provided by gender, age, and weight status. Weight status was defined based on standard categories of obesity, overweight, normal weight, and underweight using the gender-specific BMI-for-age Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts.
RESULTS: There were significant positive trends with age for each of the strength tests (P < .001) except the modified pull-up among girls. The length of time the plank was held decreased as weight status increased for both girls and boys (P < .001). As weight status increased the number of modified pull-ups decreased (P < .001 boys and girls). Scores on the knee extension increased as weight status increased (P < .01). Grip strength increased as weight status increased (P < .01).
CONCLUSIONS: Increasing weight status had a negative association with measures of strength that involved lifting the body, but was associated with improved performances on tests that did not involve lifting the body.
- Accepted June 11, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics