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Original articles  EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOMECHANICS 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2003 December;43(4):465-74

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Growth and physical fitness of Polish youths in two successive decades

Przeweda R., Dobosz J.

Academy of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland


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Aim. The aim of the ­study was to deter­mine ­changes in ­somatic ­growth and phys­ical fit­ness of ­Polish school­chil­dren ­aged 7 to 19 ­years ­over the ­last 2 ­decades of the 20th cen­tury, ­during ­which ­Poland under­went a polit­ical and ­socio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. ­Another objec­tive has ­been to ­relate ­such ­changes to ­fathers’ edu­ca­tion, ­which is a com­pre­hen­sive indi­cator of ­socio-eco­nomic ­status.
­Methods. The ­study was con­ducted on rep­re­sen­ta­tive ­random ­cohorts on 3 occa­sions: in 1979, 1989 and 1999, the num­bers of sub­jects ­ranging ­from 73000 to 230000, i.e. ­about 1-3% of the ­total pop­u­la­tion of ­that age. ­Apart ­from deter­mining ­basic ­somatic var­i­ables, all chil­dren ­were sub­jected to 8 ­tests of the Inter­na­tional Com­mittee on the Stan­dar­disa­tion of Phys­ical Fit­ness ­Tests (­ICSPFT), 9 ­EUROFIT ­tests and ­Cooper’s ­test.
­Results. A ­clear-cut sec­ular ­trend was ­observed for ­body ­height and ­mass, the ­former incre­menting by ­about 2 cm per ­decade. Pon­deral ­index ­increased ­which indi­cated a ­slightly exces­sive slim­ming ten­dency, espe­cially in ­older ­girls. Phys­ical fit­ness ­indices did not par­allel the ­somatic ­trend, and in the ­last ­decade the ­results ­were ­even ­worse ­than at the begin­ning of the ­study. ­This was attrib­uted to ­altered ­life ­styles ­induced by ­system trans­for­ma­tion. ­When ­somatic and fit­ness var­i­ables ­were ­related to ­fathers’ edu­ca­tion, a mark­edly pro­nounced diver­sifi­ca­tion was ­found – the ­lower the edu­ca­tion, the ­worse ­were all ­indices ­studied.
Con­clu­sion. It was con­cluded ­that spe­cial pro­grammes ­should be ­designed to ­improve ­health-­oriented atti­tudes and phys­ical fit­ness, espe­cially of chil­dren ­from the ­lowest ­social ­classes, in ­order to ­arrest and, pos­sibly, to ­reverse the pro­gressing ­decline in phys­ical fit­ness.

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