Physical fitness disparities among New York City public school youth using standardized methods, 2006-2017.
Standardized physical fitness monitoring provides a more accurate proxy for youth health when compared with physical activity. Little is known about the utilization of broad-scale individual-level youth physical fitness testing to explore health disparities. We examined longitudinal trends in population-level fitness for 4th-12th grade New York City youth during 2006/7-2016/17 (average n = 510,293 per year). Analyses were performed in 2019. The primary outcome was whether or not youth achieved sex-/age-specific performance levels (called the Healthy Fitness Zone) on the aerobic capacity, muscular strength and muscular endurance tests using the NYC FITNESSGRAM. The Cooper Institute's most recent Healthy Fitness Zone criteria were applied to all tests and years. Prevalence estimates were weighted, accounted for school clustering, adjusted for student-level sociodemographics, and run by sociodemographic subgroups and year. The overall prevalence for meeting 3 Healthy Fitness Zones increased from 15.5% (95%CI: 13.9%-17.0%) in 2006/7 to 23.3% (95%CI: 22.2%-24.4%) in 2016/17 for students in grades 4-12. Fitness for all student groups increased over time, although Hispanic and non-Hispanic black girls consistently had the lowest prevalence of meeting 3 Healthy Fitness Zones as compared to all other race/sex subgroups. Also, 9th-12th graders had a lower prevalence of meeting 3 Healthy Fitness Zones as compared to 4th-8th graders. Given forecasted sharp increases in cardiovascular disease prevalence, routine youth fitness surveillance using standardized, criterion referenced methods can identify important fitness disparities and inform interventions.
Konty, KJ; Day, SE; Larkin, M; Thompson, HR; D'Agostino, EM
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