The Relationship between Socioeconomic Status, Family Income, and Measures of Muscular and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Colombian Schoolchildren

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and physical fitness in a sample of Colombian youth.

Study design

Prueba SER is cross-sectional survey of schoolchildren in Bogota, Colombia. Mass, stature, muscular fitness (standing long-jump, handgrip), and cardiorespiratory fitness (20-m shuttle run) were measured in 52 187 schoolchildren 14-16 years of age. Area-level SES was categorized from 1 (very low) to 4 (high) and parent-reported family income was categorized as low, middle, or high.

Results

Converting measures into z scores showed stature, muscular, and cardiorespiratory fitness were significantly (z = 0.3-0.7) below European values. Children in the mid- and high SES groups jumped significantly further than groups with very low SES. Differences were independent of sex but became nonsignificant when adjusted for anthropometric differences. Participants in the mid-SES and high-SES groups had better handgrip scores when adjusted for body dimension. There were, however, no significant between-group differences in cardiorespiratory fitness, which was strongly clustered by school and significantly greater in students from private schools.

Conclusions

Area-level SES is associated with measures of muscular fitness in Colombian schoolchildren. These associations were largely explained by the large differences in body dimensions observed between SES groups. When area-level SES is considered, there was no evidence that family income influenced fitness. The clustering of outcomes reaffirms the potential importance of schools and area-level factors in promoting fitness through opportunities for physical activity. Interventions implemented in schools, can improve academic attainment; a factor likely to be important in promoting the social mobility of children from poorer families.

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