Relationship between body composition and physical performance of Zimbabwean children aged 10-12 years

  • Caroline C. Mavingire
  • J. Hans De Ridder
  • Daga Makaza
  • Makama A. Monyeki


A cross-sectional study of 807 (351 boys and 456 girls) children aged 10-12-year-old, whose data were obtained from Zimbabwean Baseline Survey, was undertaken to determine the relationship between their body composition and physical fitness. Body composition was determined using body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat (BF%), and waist circumference. Ten physical fitness items determined physical performance. Correlation coefficients were computed to examine the relationship between body composition and physical fitness. Combined overweight and obesity was 14.6%. Grade 1 and grade 2 thinness were exhibited by 5.9% of the children. In the total sample, %BF negatively associated with strength performance items: Standing broad jump (SBJ) (r= -0.20; p<0.001), sit-up (SUP) (r= -0.17; p<0.001) and bent arm hang (BAH) (r= -.49; p<0.001). Also, fatness positively associated with running speed tests [10x5m shuttle run (SHR), r=0.33; p<0.001; 50m sprint, r=0.26; p<0.001] and 1.5m mile run (r=0.43; p<0.001). Fatness affected the running performance of the children, especially in girls compared to boys. Also, the significant effect of fatness on physical fitness performance varied by age, in which older children performed poorly compared to younger ones. It is concluded that fatness negatively affected the children’s strength performance. However, children with minimal fatness performed significantly better in the endurance (1.5m run) test. Furthermore, the results showed that children who had excessive fatness performed poorly in speed and endurance tests. School- and community-based physical activity, and nutritional intervention programmes targeted at relatively overweight, underweight, and inactive Zimbabwean children are urgently needed.


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print ISSN: 2411-6939