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Am J Physiol. 1997 Oct;273(4):E809-14. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1997.273.4.E809.

Maximal aerobic capacity in African-American and Caucasian prepubertal children.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294-3360, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine differences in resting, submaximal, and maximal (VO2max) oxygen consumption (VO2) in African-American (n = 44) and Caucasian (n = 31) prepubertal children aged 5-10 yr. Resting VO2 was measured via indirect calorimetry in the fasted state. Submaximal VO2 and VO2max were determined during an all out, progressive treadmill exercise test appropriate for children. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine total fat mass (FM), soft lean tissue mass (LTM), and leg soft LTM. Doubly labeled water was used to determine total energy expenditure (TEE) and activity energy expenditure (AEE). A significant effect of ethnicity (P < 0.01) was found for VO2max but not resting or submaximal VO2, with African-American children having absolute VO2max approximately 15% lower than Caucasian children (1.21 +/- 0.032 vs. 1.43 +/- 0.031 l/min, respectively). The lower VO2max persisted in African-American children after adjustment for soft LTM (1.23 +/- 0.025 vs. 1.39 +/- 0.031 l/min; P < 0.01), leg soft LTM (1.20 +/- 0.031 vs. 1.43 +/- 0.042 l/min; P < 0.01), and soft LTM and FM (1.23 +/- 0.025 vs. 1.39 +/- 0.031 l/min; P < 0.01). The lower VO2max persisted also after adjustment for TEE (1.20 +/- 0.02 vs. 1.38 +/- 0.0028 l/min P < 0.001) and AEE (1.20 +/- 0.024 vs. 1.38 +/- 0.028 l/min; P < 0.001). In conclusion, our data indicate that African-American and Caucasian children have similar rates of VO2 at rest and during submaximal exercise, but VO2max is approximately 15% lower in African-American children, independent of soft LTM, FM, leg LTM, TEE, and AEE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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