STUDY OBJECTIVE--To examine the influence of social factors, passive smoking, and other parental health related factors, as well as anthropometric and other measurements on children's cardiorespiratory fitness. DESIGN--This was a cross sectional study. SETTING--The analysis was based on 22 health areas in England. PARTICIPANTS--The subjects were 299 boys and 282 girls aged 8 to 9 years. Parents did not give positive consent for 15% of the eligible sample. A further 25% of the eligible sample did not participate because the cycle-ergometer broke down, study time was insufficient, or they were excluded from the analysis because they were from ethnic minority groups or had missing data on one continuous variable. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Cardiorespiratory fitness was determined using the cycle-ergometer test. It was measured in terms of PWC85%-that is, power output per body weight (watt/kg) assessed at 85% of maximum heart rate. The association between children's fitness and biological and social factors was analysed in two stages. Firstly, multiple logistic analysis was used to examine the factors associated with the children's ability to complete the test for at least four minutes. Secondly, multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine the independent association of the factors with PWC85%. In the logistic analysis, shorter children, children with higher blood pressure, and boys with a larger sibship size had poorer fitness. In the multiple regression analysis, only height (p < 0.001) was positively associated, and the sum of skinfold thicknesses at four sites (p = 0.001) was negatively associated with fitness in both sexes. In girls, a positive association was found with pre-exercise peak expiratory flow rate (p < 0.05), and there were negative associations with systolic blood pressure (p < 0.05) and family history of heart attack (p < 0.05). In boys an association was found with skinfold distribution and fitness (p < 0.05), so that children with relatively less body fat were fitter. Social and health behaviour factors such as father's social class, father's employment status, or parents' smoking habits were unrelated to child's fitness. CONCLUSION--Height and obesity are strongly associated, and systolic blood pressure to a small extent, with children's fitness, but social factors are unrelated.
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