The association between leptin, body composition and physical fitness in black adolescents: the Play study

  • M Swanepoel
  • H Moss
  • S Kruger
  • A Schutter
Keywords: Leptin, South Africa, Body composition, Ethnicity, Physical fitness,


This study investigated the association between leptin, body composition and physical fitness in black adolescents from two selected schools in Ikageng, in the North West Province of South Africa. Baseline measurements were obtained from 124 boys and 148 girls between the ages of 13 and 20 years, which participated in the bigger PLAY- longitudinal study (Physical Activity in the Young). Body composition was assessed through SSK (sum of 6 skinfolds), BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage (BOD POD). Physical fitness was measured with the 20 meters shuttle run and indirect V02-max values were calculated using Internet software. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data. Partial correlations were used to determine the relationships between various variables. From the results it is clear the SSK showed a strong positive correlation in both genders with leptin – even a stronger correlation in boys (r = 0.8420). In girls BMI and leptin correlated the highest (r = 0.7489). Body fat percentage had the weakest correlation with leptin in both genders, although it was still significant. Indirect V02-max values and leptin showed a significant negative correlation in both genders. This correlation was stronger in boys (r = -0.314) than in girls (r = -0.235).

Keywords: Leptin; South Africa; Body composition; Ethnicity; Physical fitness; Body fat; Gender.

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol. 29 (2) 2007: pp. 109-120

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069