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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Jun;38(6):1175-81.

Associations of body size and composition with physical activity in adolescent girls.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Department of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. lohman@u.arizona.edu



To examine whether components of body composition (size, fat mass, and fat-free mass) were related to physical activity.


A random sample of 60 eligible sixth grade girls at each of 36 schools (six schools per region and six regions in total sample); complete measurements on 1,553 girls. Physical activity was assessed over 6 d in each girl using an accelerometer, and body composition was assessed using a multiple regression equation using body mass index and triceps skinfold. Minutes of moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity were estimated from accelerometer counts per 30 s above threshold values determined from a previous study.


Significant inverse relationships were found for all measures of body size and composition and all physical activity indices. The combination of fat and fat-free mass expressed as a weight and as an index (divided by height squared) along with race, SES, site, and school were most highly associated with physical activity in multiple regression analysis, accounting for 14-15% of the variance in physical activity. Fat mass was more closely related to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) than fat-free mass with higher standardized regression coefficients.


We conclude that both fat mass or fat mass index as well as fat-free mass or fat-free mass index make independent contributions in association with physical activity levels. These indices are recommended for future studies.

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