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Br J Sports Med 45:20-29 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.062679
  • Original articles

Physical fitness levels among European adolescents: the HELENA study

  1. on behalf of the HELENA studyϕ
  1. 1Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
  2. 2Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
  3. 3Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4GENUD ‘Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development’ Research Group, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
  5. 5Department of Physiotherapy and Nursing, Faculty of Health and Sport Science (FCSD), Universidad de Zaragoza, Huesca, Spain
  6. 6Department of Physiotherapy and Nursing, School of Health Science (EUCS), Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
  7. 7Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece
  8. 8Unité U995, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale & Institut de Médecine Prédictive et Thérapeutique, Faculté de Médecine, Université Lille Nord de France, Lille, France
  9. 9Centre d'Investigation, Clinique CIC-9301, Centre Hospitalier & Universitaire de Lille, Lille, France
  10. 10Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  11. 11INRAN-National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition, Rome, Italy
  12. 12Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
  13. 13Department of Pediatrics, Division of Clinical Nutrition, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  14. 14Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  15. 15Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Rheinische Friedrich–Wilhelms Universitat Bonn, Dortmund, Germany
  16. 16Department of Paediatrics, Medical Faculty, University of Pécs. Jzsef A, Pécs, Hungary
  1. Correspondence to Francisco B Ortega, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Novum 14157 Huddinge, Sweden; ortegaf{at}ugr.es
  1. Contributors All the authors have approved the publication of the paper in its present form, and the author's agreement is going to be sent. The authors' contributions to the HELENA study and this report were as follows study design (FBO, JRR, GVR, LAM, YM, LB, DC, KS, MK, DM, MGG, AG, MS, MJC), data collection (GVR, LAM, YM, LB, CO DC, KS, SD, MK, DM), data analysis and interpretation of results (FBO, EGA, JRR, VER, DJP, LAM, GVR, MS, MJC), writing of the manuscript (FBO) and significant advices and consultation (all the authors).

  • Accepted 4 August 2009
  • Published Online First 20 August 2009

Abstract

Objective To report sex- and age-specific physical fitness levels in European adolescents.

Methods A sample of 3428 adolescents (1845 girls) aged 12.5–17.49 years from 10 European cities in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece (an inland city and an island city), Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden was assessed in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study between 2006 and 2008. The authors assessed muscular fitness, speed/agility, flexibility and cardiorespiratory fitness using nine different fitness tests: handgrip, bent arm hang, standing long jump, Bosco jumps (squat jump, counter movement jump and Abalakov jump), 4×10-m shuttle run, back-saver sit and reach and 20-m shuttle run tests.

Results The authors derived sex- and age-specific normative values for physical fitness in the European adolescents using the LMS statistical method and expressed as tabulated percentiles from 10 to 100 and as smoothed centile curves (P5, P25, P50, P75 and P95). The figures showed greater physical fitness in the boys, except for the flexibility test, and a trend towards increased physical fitness in the boys as their age increased, whereas the fitness levels in the girls were more stable across ages.

Conclusions The normative values hereby provided will enable evaluation and correct interpretation of European adolescents' fitness status.

Footnotes

  • FBO and EGA contributed equally.

  • Funding The HELENA study takes place with the financial support of the European Community Sixth RTD Framework Programme (Contract FOOD-CT-2005-007034). This study is also being supported by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Education (EX-2007-1124, EX-2008-0641, AP-2005-3827, AP2005-4358, DEP2007-29933-E), Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, and the ALPHA study, a European Union-funded study, in the framework of the Public Health Programme (Ref: 2006120). The content of this article reflects only the authors' views, and the European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committees of each city involved. For further information about ethical issues in the HELENA study see reference 22.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • ϕ HELENA Study Group

  • Disclosure The content of this paper reflect only the authors' views and the rest of HELENA study members are not responsible for it.

  • Co-ordinator Luis A. Moreno.

  • Core Group members Luis A. Moreno, Fréderic Gottrand, Stefaan De Henauw, Marcela González-Gross, Chantal Gilbert.

  • Steering Committee Anthony Kafatos (President), Luis A. Moreno, Christian Libersa, Stefaan De Henauw, Jackie Sánchez, Fréderic Gottrand, Mathilde Kersting, Michael Sjöstrom, Dénes Molnár, Marcela González-Gross, Jean Dallongeville, Chantal Gilbert, Gunnar Hall, Lea Maes, Luca Scalfi.

  • Project Manager Pilar Meléndez.

    1. Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain) Luis A. Moreno, Jesús Fleta, José A. Casajús, Gerardo Rodríguez, Concepción Tomás, María I. Mesana, Germán Vicente-Rodríguez, Adoración Villarroya, Carlos M. Gil, Ignacio Ara, Juan Revenga, Carmen Lachen, Juan Fernández Alvira, Gloria Bueno, Aurora Lázaro, Olga Bueno, Juan F. León, Jesús Mª Garagorri, Manuel Bueno, Juan Pablo Rey López, Iris Iglesia, Paula Velasco, Silvia Bel.

    2. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) Ascensión Marcos, Julia Wärnberg, Esther Nova, Sonia Gómez, Esperanza Ligia Díaz, Javier Romeo, Ana Veses, Mari Angeles Puertollano, Belén Zapatera, Tamara Pozo.

    3. Université de Lille 2 (France) Laurent Beghin, Christian Libersa, Frédéric Gottrand, Catalina Iliescu, Juliana Von Berlepsch.

    4. Research Institute of Child Nutrition Dortmund, Rheinische Friedrich–Wilhelms Universität Bonn (Germany) Mathilde Kersting, Wolfgang Sichert-Hellert, Ellen Koeppen.

    5. Pécsi Tudományegyetem (University of Pécs) (Hungary) Dénes Molnar, Eva Erhardt, Katalin Csernus, Katalin Török, Szilvia Bokor, Mrs. Angster, Enikö Nagy, Orsolya Kovács, Judit Repásy.

    6. University of Crete School of Medicine (Greece) Anthony Kafatos, Caroline Codrington, María Plada, Angeliki Papadaki, Katerina Sarri, Anna Viskadourou, Christos Hatzis, Michael Kiriakakis, George Tsibinos, Constantine Vardavas Manolis Sbokos, Eva Protoyeraki, Maria Fasoulaki.

    7. Institut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften – Ernährungphysiologie. Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität (Germany) Peter Stehle, Klaus Pietrzik, Marcela González-Gross, Christina Breidenassel, Andre Spinneker, Jasmin Al-Tahan, Miriam Segoviano, Anke Berchtold, Christine Bierschbach, Erika Blatzheim, Adelheid Schuch, Petra Pickert.

    8. University of Granada (Spain) Manuel J. Castillo, Ángel Gutiérrez, Francisco B. Ortega, Jonatan R Ruiz, Enrique G. Artero, Vanesa España-Romero, David Jiménez-Pavón, Palma Chillón.

    9. Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (Italy) Davide Arcella, Elena Azzini, Emma Barrison, Noemi Bevilacqua, Pasquale Buonocore, Giovina Catasta, Laura Censi, Donatella Ciarapica, Paola D'Acapito, Marika Ferrari, Myriam Galfo, Cinzia Le Donne, Catherine Leclercq, Giuseppe Maiani, Beatrice Mauro, Lorenza Mistura, Antonella Pasquali, Raffaela Piccinelli, Angela Polito, Raffaella Spada, Stefania Sette, Maria Zaccaria.

    10. University of Napoli “Federico II” Dept of Food Science (Italy) Luca Scalfi, Paola Vitaglione, Concetta Montagnese.

    11. Ghent University (Belgium) Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Stefaan De Henauw, Tineke De Vriendt, Lea Maes, Christophe Matthys, Carine Vereecken, Mieke de Maeyer, Charlene Ottevaere

    12. Medical University of Vienna (Austria) Kurt Widhalm, Katharina Phillipp, Sabine Dietrich, Birgit Kubelka Marion Boriss-Riedl.

    13. Harokopio University (Greece) Yannis Manios, Eva Grammatikaki, Zoi Bouloubasi, Tina Louisa Cook, Sofia Eleutheriou, Orsalia Consta, George Moschonis, Ioanna Katsaroli, George Kraniou, Stalo Papoutsou, Despoina Keke, Ioanna Petraki, Elena Bellou, Sofia Tanagra, Kostalenia Kallianoti, Dionysia Argyropoulou, Katerina Kondaki, Stamatoula Tsikrika, Christos Karaiskos.

    14. Institut Pasteur de Lille (France) Jean Dallongeville, Aline Meirhaeghe.

    15. Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) Michael Sjöstrom, Patrick Bergman, María Hagströmer, Lena Hallström, Mårten Hallberg, Eric Poortvliet, Julia Wärnberg, Nico Rizzo, Linda Beckman, Anita Hurtig Wennlöf, Emma Patterson, Lydia Kwak, Lars Cernerud, Per Tillgren, Stefaan Sörensen.

    16. Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Agroalimentaria (Spain) Jackie Sánchez-Molero, Elena Picó, Maite Navarro, Blanca Viadel, José Enrique Carreres, Gema Merino, Rosa Sanjuán, María Lorente, María José Sánchez, Sara Castelló.

    17. Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association (United Kingdom) Chantal Gilbert, Sarah Thomas, Elaine Allchurch, Peter Burguess.

    18. SIK - Institutet foer Livsmedel och Bioteknik (Sweden) Gunnar Hall, Annika Astrom, Anna Sverkén, Agneta Broberg.

    19. Meurice Recherche & Development asbl (Belgium) Annick Masson, Claire Lehoux, Pascal Brabant, Philippe Pate, Laurence Fontaine.

    20. Campden & Chorleywood Food Development Institute (Hungary) Andras Sebok, Tunde Kuti, Adrienn Hegyi.

    21. Productos Aditivos SA (Spain) Cristina Maldonado, Ana Llorente.

    22. Cárnicas Serrano SL (Spain) Emilio García.

    23. Cederroth International AB (Sweden) Holger von Fircks, Marianne Lilja Hallberg, Maria Messerer.

    24. Lantmännen Food R&D (Sweden) Mats Larsson, Helena Fredriksson, Viola Adamsson, Ingmar Börjesson.

    25. European Food Information Council (Belgium) Laura Fernández, Laura Smillie, Josephine Wills.

    26. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain) Marcela González-Gross, Agustín Meléndez, Pedro J. Benito, Javier Calderón, David Jiménez-Pavón, Jara Valtueña, Paloma Navarro, Alejandro Urzanqui, Ulrike Albers, Raquel Pedrero, Juan José Gómez Lorente.

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