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Open AccessArticle

Prevention of Overweight and Hypertension through Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Extracurricular Sport Participation among South African Schoolchildren

1
Department of Human Movement Science, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth 6001, South Africa
2
Novartis Foundation, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
3
Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
4
Novartis, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
5
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
6
University of Basel, 4001 Basel, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6581; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166581
Received: 14 July 2020 / Revised: 30 July 2020 / Accepted: 11 August 2020 / Published: 14 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Health and Sustainability)
Hypertension and overweight are growing public health concerns in school-aged children. We examined whether cardiorespiratory fitness and sport participation contribute to the prevention of hypertension and overweight. We conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial with 853 children aged 8–13 years in eight primary schools in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Cardiorespiratory fitness, sport participation, body mass index, and blood pressure were assessed at baseline and after a physical activity intervention, which took place at two time-points (July–September 2015 and February–April 2016) for 10 weeks each. Mixed logistic regressions were employed to analyze the data. At baseline, 18.8% of the children were classified as overweight/obese and 13.5% as hypertensive. High cardiorespiratory fitness and high sport participation were negatively associated with overweight/obesity, while high sport participation was associated with lower risk for hypertension. Longitudinally, normal weight children who initially had higher cardiorespiratory fitness showed less decrease in this variable, while those who participated in the physical activity intervention were less likely to become overweight/obese. High cardiorespiratory fitness and sport participation are linked with children’s weight status. Children who are fit and participate regularly in sport outside school hours are less likely to be hypertensive. Our findings highlight the importance of regular extracurricular physical activity and maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: cardiorespiratory fitness; hypertension; obesity; overweight; physical activity; schoolchildren; sport participation; South Africa cardiorespiratory fitness; hypertension; obesity; overweight; physical activity; schoolchildren; sport participation; South Africa
MDPI and ACS Style

Nqweniso, S.; Walter, C.; du Randt, R.; Aerts, A.; Adams, L.; Degen, J.; Gall, S.; Gani, Z.; Joubert, N.; Müller, I.; Smith, D.; Seelig, H.; Steinmann, P.; Probst-Hensch, N.; Utzinger, J.; Pühse, U.; Gerber, M. Prevention of Overweight and Hypertension through Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Extracurricular Sport Participation among South African Schoolchildren. Sustainability 2020, 12, 6581.

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