Objectively assessed associations between physical activity and body composition in middle-school girls

June Stevens, David M. Murray, Chris D. Baggett, John P. Elder, Timothy G. Lohman, Leslie A. Lytle, Russell R. Pate, Charlotte A. Pratt, Margarita S. Treuth, Larry S. Webber, Deborah R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Declining levels of physical activity probably contribute to the increasing prevalence of overweight in US youth. In this study, the authors examined cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between physical activity and body composition in sixth- and eighth-grade girls. In 2003, girls were recruited from six US states as part of the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls. Physical activity was measured using 6 days of accelerometry, and percentage of body fat was calculated using an age- and ethnicity-specific prediction equation. Sixth-grade girls with an average of 12.8 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day (15th percentile) were 2.3 times (95% confidence interval: 1.52, 3.44) more likely to be overweight than girls with 34.7 minutes of MVPA per day (85th percentile), and their percent body fat was 2.64 percentage points greater (95% confidence interval: 1.79, 3.50). Longitudinal analyses showed that percent body fat increased 0.28 percentage points less in girls with a 6.2-minute increase in MVPA than in girls with a 4.5-minute decrease (85th and 15th percentiles of change). Associations between MVPA in sixth grade and incidence of overweight in eighth grade were not detected. More population-based research using objective physical activity and body composition measurements is needed to make evidence-based physical activity recommendations for US youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1298-1305
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Adipose tissue
  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body composition
  • Body mass index
  • Exercise
  • Growth
  • Longitudinal studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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