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BMC Public Health

, 17:301

Energy balance-related behaviors


BackgroundThis observational study aims to describe fitness, and objectively measured physical activity levels and patterns in 409 young black South African adults aged 19–20 years from Soweto, as well as to examine associations between physical activity, fitness and BMI.

MethodsA sub-maximal ramped step test was used to obtain an estimate of maximal oxygen uptake VO2max. Physical activity was measured using ActiGraph GT1M for 7 days in 256 participants. Time spent in sedentary <100 counts per minute cpm, moderate 2020–5998 cpm and vigorous ≥5999 cpm intensity activity was calculated, and 90% of participants were considered active. Data are presented as meanCI or medianCI.

ResultsOverweight and obesity was more prevalent in females than males 35% vs 8%, p < 0.001. Males had a higher VO2max than females 41.941, 43 vs 32.632, 33mlO2-kg-min, p < 0.001; spent more time in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity MVPA 8380, 94 vs 4338, 45min-day, p < 0.001, and less time in sedentary behaviours 541541, 567 vs 575568, 597min-day, p < 0.01. Sedentary time was not associated with VO2max, however BMI was inversely associated, and MVPA was positively associated, with VO2max both p < 0.001.

ConclusionsThe majority of young South African adults in this study were sufficiently active, and higher MVPA was associated with fitness. However, the high level of sedentary behaviour in this population is of concern and may be contributing to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in this population. Young South African females are at greatest risk for decreased cardiovascular fitness and should be the focus for future interventions.

KeywordsFitness Physical activity Sedentary behaviour Accelerometry Soweto AbbreviationsACSMAmerican college of sports medicine

BMIBody mass index

CDCCentre for disease control

CpmCounts per minute


GPAQGlobal physical activity questionnaire

MVPAModerate to vigorous physical activity

NHANESNational health and nutrition examination survey

PAHLPhysical activity and health longitudinal study

SADHSSouth African demographic and health survey

SANHANESSouth African national health and nutrition examination survey

WHOWorld health organisation

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12889-017-4212-0 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Autor: A. Prioreschi - S. Brage - K. Westgate - S. A. Norris - L. K. Micklesfield


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